November is Salute to Service month in the NFL and this week, the Los Angeles Chargers spent time hosting numerous events in support of our military.
Earlier in the week, Keenan Allen, Desmond King and Rayshawn Jenkins stopped by the Microsoft store in South Coast Plaza to join a Pros vs. GI Joes Fortnite tournament. The Bolts teamed up with members of Wounded Warriors to compete against eight other NFL teams who were also playing in the Tourney for the Troops.
On Friday, the team welcomed 10 families from the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (T.A.P.S.) to practice. The gold star families were paired up with 10 Chargers players, including Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Mike Pouncey and Antonio Gates, to place a decal of the initials of their lost loved one on the player's helmet.
"This is awesome," Pouncey said. "These people risk a lot to go out there and make sure we have a safe country to be in. These families go through a lot already, so to be able to go out there and wear these initials on my helmet means a lot to me. Without our service members, we wouldn't be who we are today. They make this country safe for us to be able to go out and play this game that we love."
As part of the Salute to Service initiative, the Chargers invited families from T.A.P.S. to apply special decals on players' helmets to honor their fallen heroes.
The players will honor the fallen service members this Sunday as well as in Week 11 vs. the Denver Broncos by dedicating the games to them.
"For these families, it's a huge thing to get the recognition of the players and the team and to be able to share their story with them," added Leigh Edmonds, Manager of T.A.P.S. Sports and Entertainment. "Anytime they're able to say the hero's name (and) share that story, that means their loved one lives on. They live on in the hearts of those that have heard the story and maybe that person will either remember their loved one or share that story, and the ripple effects of that loved one's life and legacy continue to live on beyond the time they were here with us."
Later that day, many players participated in a Pros vs. GI Joes event at Hoag Performance Center. Since 2011, the nonprofit has teamed up with the Chargers to provide opportunities for veterans to compete against players in video games such as Call of Duty, Fortnite and Madden.
"It gives us an opportunity to thank them," said Derek Watt. "They're fans of us, we're fans of them. We appreciate everything they've given for us. (It's great to) be able to sit down and have a few minutes to spend with them, play some video games and just kind of let them get to know us a little bit on a personal level rather than watching us on TV."
The Chargers and the Chargers Community Foundation help build healthy communities for our region's youth. For more information, follow @ChargersCR on Twitter.
The Chargers invited 20 veterans for their annual Pros vs. GI Joes Tournament at Hoag Performance Center on Friday, November 9, 2018.