By by Lee ElderMay 3, 2019
The biggest-attended and most-watched National Football League draft here also included two appearances by local U.S. Army recruiters.
On Day One, U.S. Army Recruiting Battalion Nashville Soldiers performed Color Guard duties during the opening ceremonies. The following day, two local recruiters were honored for their service to the nation along with members of the Navy, Air Force and Marines.
"The NFL is always proud to recognize the men and women who serve our nation day in and day out," said Anna Isaacson, Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility, NFL. "It was our honor to highlight military members in the Nashville area during the Draft, and we can't thank them enough for their service."
After being held in New York City for many years, the NFL Draft debuted in Nashville this year. The league reports that more than 600,000 attended the three day event and more than 47.5 million viewers watched on television or online. Both were record numbers.
Army recruiters from the Madison U.S. Army Recruiting Station helped get things rolling on opening night. The five-member team marched onto the stage with the U.S., Army and Tennessee flags while gospel singer CeCe Winans performed the National Anthem before the first pick was announced.
Leading the way was Madison Station's commander Sgt. 1st Class Robert Corbitt. The team had practiced for days leading up to the April 25 opening, including an on-stage rehearsal the night before.
"It's something like I've never done before," Corbitt said. "The other guys really enjoyed it.
"It was a great way to showcase us as the Army."
Corbitt said he got many calls, texts and social media posts from friends and family members who saw him during the ceremony. All the feedback was positive, he said.
Recruiters had to constantly adjust their routine and be fluid in the fast-paced world of sports television. Despite the challenges, Corbitt said he was pleased with the end product.
"We planned everything at the last minute," Corbitt said. "It went smoothly other than that."
Standing in front of the huge crowd and hearing Winans' performance was electrifying. Corbitt said he would never forget that night as the five-man team marched into the historical event.
"It was amazing," Corbitt said. "I wanted to soak it up more, but it was hard because we were so rushed.
"It was hard to take it all in the time we were out on the stage, but you could feel the patriotism."
Other color guard members were Sgt. 1st Class David Bornstein, Staff Sgt. Richard Lermy, Staff Sgt. Joshua Gill, Staff Sgt. Giorgio Griffin and Staff Sgt. Joshua Gill.
On April 26 rounds two and three were held. Between selections, the NFL honored USARB Nashville's top NCO Command Sgt. Maj. Aaron Acla and Staff Sgt. Derrike Hagy, a Murfreesboro (Tenn.) Army recruiter.
A Virginia native who grew up as a Dallas Cowboys' fan, Hagy said he was thrilled to meet Cowboys' legends like Ed "Too Tall" Jones and Michael Irvin backstage. He also got to shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"It was pretty cool to go down there in front of more than 100,000 people," Hagy said. "There was a ton of support."
A motor transport operator by trade, Hagy has served in the Army for 10 years. He's got a pair of combat tours in Afghanistan under his belt. Being recognized by the cheering crowd and being seen worldwide was an experience in his military career he said he'd never forget.
"I was kind of excited more than nervous," Hagy said. "It was an honor to go down there and be selected."
If you have questions about Army service, contact your local Army recruiter.
Army opportunities are available any time at www.GoArmy.com. The Army also has a presence on most social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and many others.