Football Fans to Get Glimpse of Military Sacrifices
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2002 Throughout the upcoming season, American football fans will get a glimpse of the sacrifices the men and women of the armed forces make.
The National Football League is sponsoring "American Postcards," a series of profiles to be broadcast during regular and post-season games.
"About 120 million people watch an NFL game each weekend," said Allison Barber, a Pentagon spokeswoman. "Our goal is to allow men and women across America to be able to feel a connection to our military members."
Barber said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue came up with the idea in early August. "What they had in mind was just regular stories of military folks who had written letters home, or who have e-mailed or who have found unique ways to communicate with their families," she said.
NFL Films chose stories from suggestions from the Defense Department and the services -- including two stories featured on www.DefendAmerica.gov. The spots are scheduled to begin airing on Sept. 5 with the New York Giants vs. the San Francisco 49ers game on ESPN. The spots will also run during NFL games broadcast on CBS, Fox and ABC.
NFL Films traveled to Afghanistan to speak with service members and to stateside hometowns to speak with family members and friends. In one instance, filmmakers spoke with Army Spc. Julia Pilat in Afghanistan. An Army Reservist, Pilat is a 10th grade teacher from Beacon, N.Y. The spot will feature her as she speaks with 19 students from her class via a video teleconference link.
Another ad features Marine Capt. Rico Hunter. The NFL crew caught Hunter as he was calling Paul Johnson, his former football coach at the U.S. Naval Academy.
Another features Air Force Airman Amy Ting. On Sept. 11 last year, she was a civilian and in the Marriott Hotel across the street from the World Trade Center. She enlisted the week following the attack. The NFL crew filmed Ting on duty at Dover Air Force Base, Del.
Plans are for future spots to feature service members based in the Persian Gulf, aboard ship and across the United States.
"In the midst of a football game, we want people to pause and recognize that every minute of every day, someone is defending our country," Barber said.
She said a secondary DoD goal is for people to become excited about the military. "It's not a recruiting campaign in any way," she said. "But it is an education campaign."
Barber said the NFL is just the latest in a long list of organizations that have contacted the Defense Department looking for ways to support the men and women of the military.