October is the NFL's official Salute to Service month. This month you may have seen NFL Coaches in military themed clothing as part of this program, and I applaud the fundraising the last ten years as the NFL has raised $51 million to benefit the league's military nonprofit partners. The NFL is selling commemorative jerseys in fatigue colors for our own Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs, other current stars, and legendary players such as Jim Kelly. CBS Sports is the only media site I have seen promoting this. "Honor our service members while supporting your favorite teams with these camo trucker hats, pullovers, hoodies, jerseys, and more" ..."The jerseys feature an American flag patch on the right sleeve, a camouflaged ribbon with an NFL logo on the left sleeve, the team name replicating the military nameplate on the right shoulder and the team logo on the left. The NFL is also selling commemorative hats, hoodies and t-shirts with camouflaged themes and team logos."
You may want to consider this for your XMAS shopping (at the Fanatic dot com website).
However in order to have a more substantive ‘Salute to Service’, I recommend going beyond buying the NFL branded Camo ball cap, and start thinking about the history of the connections between the NFL and our country’s military. So I did a little research and here are a few historical nuggets on connections between the NFL and the military. During WWII, some of the best football teams in America came out of the Great Lakes Naval Training Center which were led by the legendary Coach Paul Brown. The Pro Football Hall of Fame lists the names of more than a thousand NFL personnel who served in WWII, and another 226 NFL men who served in Korea.
There are also bonds between NFL fans and the military generated by the linking of a civic sporting event and the American history we all live through. When tens of thousands of Americans gather to watch a football game, the very presence of that crowd, combined with their knowledge of important events in our national life as well the fact that many fans personally know family & friends in the military, will lead many fans to acknowledge our common civic bonds. Being football fans in many instances leads us to remember that we are also fans of America and it’s place in history.
To illustrate that point, below are two October dates where I pair American military history with the exact same date in our football team’s history.
Oct 7, 2001 - US led coalition airstrikes on terrorist training camps mark the start of the Afghanistan War. By the end of the year, U.S. forces in that country grew to 2,500 and they ousted the Taliban.
On that same Oct 7th date, the Bills lose to the Jets 42-36. In the losing effort, after Rob Johnson was hurt in Q1, the Bills backup QB Alex Van Pelt threw 3 TDS, one of which was a 70 yd pass to Peerless Price. Van Pelt would later go on to coach for the Bills, and is currently the offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns, and we may face him in the Playoffs.
Oct 2, 1949 - The USSR recognized the People's Republic of China. Four days later, President Truman signed the first US military foreign aid legislation of the Cold War era which coupled with the Marshall Plan stabilized war torn Europe. There were still around 80 thousand American troops in Europe at the time.
The Buffalo Bills on Oct 2, 1949 lost to the Baltimore Colts 35 to 28. The Colts QB, and future Hall of Famer, Y.A.Tittle threw for 3 TDs. As a side note, one of the most famous photographs of an NFL player is the one of Tittle, in his final season, bloodied and kneeling down in the end zone, and the the aging fallen warrior was helmetless after a crushing tackle by the Steeler’s John Baker (I saw this first on ‘Old Time Football’ twitter).
Please note that as this post, like the NFLs Salute to Service, is focused on appreciation of our military, please do not post anything political if you wish to reply. I know many BR posters have a knack for interesting GIFs, so patriotic themed GIFs are appreciated.