Chargers Legend Donnie Edwards will join Tony Richardson and Amani Toomer on the first-ever All-NFL Legends USO Tour during the week of July 23 in Japan.
An extension of Salute to Service, the League’s year-round effort to honor, empower and connect service members, veterans and their families through a unifying lens of football and strategic partnerships, this year’s NFL-USO tour will visit service members and families at multiple installations and observe missions ranging from crash and rescue to engineering, as well as visit high school football players.
“The NFL remains committed to honoring and giving back to the men and women in uniform who sacrifice so much to protect our country,” said Anna Isaacson, NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility. “We are excited to partner with the USO on another goodwill tour and continue strengthening our connections to our nation’s service members.”
Throughout the week, the players will spend quality time with Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and their families, meet with installation commanders and participate in unit visits. The NFL Legends will also take part in a military working dog demonstration, visit an air defense artillery unit and get a close-up view of aircraft and the maintainers who keep them in the air.
Edwards is a strong supporter of the U.S. military having been inspired by his grandparents, who served in World War II and the Korean War. Additionally, he spends time regularly visiting veterans as well as military bases speaking to servicemen and women, and has participated in many USO tours prior to this one in Japan.
“For more than 50 years, the USO and NFL have partnered to bring a piece of home to service members no matter where they are in the world,” said Kristina Griffin, USO Corporate Alliances Senior Director. “This trip with NFL Legends is a continuation of this long-standing partnership and our joint efforts to keep service members connected to family, home and country.”
In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send players on a tour to Vietnam and other parts of the Far East. Since then, more than 250 NFL players, coaches and executives, including Terry Bradshaw, Bill Cowher, Ben Garland, Franco Harris, Larry Fitzgerald, Lynn Swann and J.J. Watt have visited troops on NFL-USO tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Germany, Iraq, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Somalia.
In 2008, Commissioner Roger Goodell became the first sports commissioner to visit the troops overseas as part of a USO trip when he toured Iraq and Afghanistan.
In addition to overseas morale-building visits, the NFL has supported several different USO projects through Salute to Service including flag football programming and the expansion and refurbishment of USO centers and programming.
For more information on the USO please visit uso.org.