JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- A few players of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks visited Joint Base Lewis-McChord Sept. 20 as part of the NFL’s Salute to Armed Forces during their scheduled off day.
“It’s been a great visit,” said Jermaine Kearse, former Seahawks wide receiver., who came with the current members of the team. “I grew up on JBLM, and so it’s great to be back and be able to support the troops and thank them for their service.”
The players’ first stop was McChord Field, inside a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, where 16 Army and Air Force recruits swore their oath of enlistment as new members of the military.
“I’m actually very excited and I’m very happy of the decision I made,” said Briame Sellars, one of the Army’s enlistees. “I was a little nervous, but I think I made the right decision. It’s also nice to meet NFL players. It’s crazy I see them on TV now they’re here in person, so very excited about that.”
Mike Ford, Falcons cornerback, stood side-by-side with the enlistees during the oath of enlistment ceremony and was impressed with what he saw.
“I felt like it’s an honor and special moment for them and you could just tell that they really wanted to be a part of that,” Ford said. “Them raising their hand and dedicating their life to be a part of the military shows their commitment and shows how important this is to them.”
After meeting and greeting and signing autographs for the troops at the McChord hangar, the players received a safety briefing and loaded up on Stryker vehicles to their next destination – the Expert Infantry Badge and Expert Soldier Badge training lanes hosted by the 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
“It’s incredible to come out here and spend time with men and women who serve our country, and it is an awesome experience and really eye-opening,” said Christopher Lindstrom, Falcons offensive lineman. “Obviously, the men and women of the U.S. military are sacrificing a lot more and have a lot more on the line than what we do as football players.”
Falcons punter Bradley Pinion agreed with his teammate.
“It doesn’t compare at all, honestly,” Pinion said. “Football is our job and we go out and have fun. But service members are going out serving our country, and they’re doing something way beyond what we’re doing. People compare football and the military all the time, there’s some comparisons, but they’re putting their life on the line every single day.”
The players tried their hands on the EIB and ESB training lanes and experienced what Soldiers go through to qualify on different weapons system.
“My two favorite things are the grenade lane for sure and I get to collect a bunch of their little unit patches,” Ford said. “I thought that was really cool to see what those patches mean to those guys and how they earned them and everything.”
After going through the training lanes, the players thanked and saluted the service members and posed for a group photo before departing.
The Seahawks and Falcons will battle each other at Lumen Field, Sept. 25 at 1:25 p.m.