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NFL-military Super Bowl partnership longstanding

By Staff | Feb 6, 2009

Deployed troops who watched this year’s Super Bowl were greeted with messages from their new commander in chief and top Defense Department officials. These messages reminded the men and women who wear our country’s uniform of how grateful their fellow Americans are for their service.

Instead of commercials, parts of the content carried between downs on the American Forces Network were public service announcements recorded by President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Admiral Mike Mullen.

“As we all take this time to watch the big game, I wanted to be sure to send all of our military men and women a special greeting,” said President Obama. “You are tuning in from all over the world. But no matter where you are and no matter which team you’re rooting for, this event is bringing you a little closer to home.

“I am honored to be your commander in chief, I thank you for your courage and sacrifice during these trying times, and I promise to do everything in my power to help you accomplish your mission,” he said. “You make us proud each and every day.”

From fighter jet flyovers to military performances at halftime shows, the National Football League and U.S. military have shared more than 40 years of Super Bowl history.

The NFL-military Super Bowl partnership began with the first Air Force flyover in 1968 over Miami’s Orange Bowl for the second Super Bowl. Since then, flyovers have become a regular part of the big game. The Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration squadron performed the pregame flyover for this year’s game.

The tradition was also continued this past Super Bowl when Army General David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, performed the ceremonial coin toss for the Arizona Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers team captains.

“It is a privilege to represent our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen in the coin-toss ceremony,” said General Petraeus. “And it is an honor to thank the NFL commissioner and the teams and players for all that they have done in recent years to recognize the service of our troopers and their families.”

Of course, no one in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia needs to be reminded that American events like the Super Bowl are possible only because of the sacrifice and duty paid by the men and women wearing the cloth of our nation and their families.

– Tom Maiden lives in Shepherdstown with his wife and four children and is currently deployed to Iraq. When not serving as a Citizen Sailor, Tom works part-time teaching insurance and financial planning at Shepherd University and owns a financial planning practice in Shepherdstown.