February 4, 2021
Imagine stepping aboard a school bus that has a bullet proof door to protect the driver. I knew this event was going to be adventurous from that very moment, but I did not know how much my heart would swell with pride and gratitude as the NFL Salute To Service event unfolded.
Argentinian native, Martin Gramatica, a 1999 third round draft pick for Tampa Bay joined 16-year NFL Legend, Cris Carter, to represent the NFL along with the Bucs mascot and reps from the Tampa Bay Cheer Team.
The February 4, 2021 morning event included tours of the aircraft used for the Super Bowl Flyover as well as demonstrations by the K9 Unit and Search and Rescue Unit. There was enough time to interview the military crews that were present and to commend them for their dedication.
My highlight was hearing the genuine spirit of the speeches by Carter and Gramatica. They spoke from their heart. Carter said, “Most soldiers just come from ordinary places. If you look around the National Football League, most of us come from ordinary places. So, we have that in common…trying to do extraordinary things. It’s all about teamwork. I got my partners back; I got my teammates back. So, we understand that. Thank you!”
One of the more lighthearted moments was a cheerleader asking Cris Carter who he was? Are you famous? Did you play? Were you good? Carter’s good-natured responses were part of the tone of the morning as the Salute To Service was about honoring the military personnel.
It is encouraging to witness the way that the NFL and the USAF (as well as other branches) work together to create hope and possibility through sports!