As part of the NFL’s Salute to Service program, players have teamed up with USAA to provide veterans with tickets to the big game. This initiative, in collaboration since 2011, is an effort to honor and recognize the service of veterans across the nation.
“It’s heartwarming to see the joy on the faces of our veterans as they have the opportunity to engage with the NFL and feel appreciated for their invaluable contributions to our country,” said Rory Wicks, the USAA’s West Region Director for Military Affairs. The alignment between the NFL and USAA in supporting veterans was described as a natural and mutually beneficial fit.
Garoppolo has a personal connection to the military through his family, with both his grandfather and uncle having served in the armed forces. Reflecting on his grandfather’s stories and the impact they had on him, Garoppolo shared that his family’s military history has always held significant meaning for him.
Interacting with military members, such as Josh Polson, has further deepened Garoppolo’s appreciation for their dedication and sacrifice. Polson, who served in the United States Air Force before joining the New Mexico Air National Guard, echoed Garoppolo’s sentiments, highlighting the strong military legacy within his own family.
For Polson, the chance to witness his hometown team, the Kansas City Chiefs, play in the Super Bowl represents a once-in-a-lifetime experience, regardless of the game’s outcome. The excitement of attending the Super Bowl, especially in Las Vegas, amplifies the significance of this moment for him.
Notably, the partnership between NFL players like Garoppolo and organizations like USAA extends beyond Super Bowl festivities. Atlanta Falcons running back Bijon Robinson, who has worked closely with USAA, emphasized the parallels between football and the military, emphasizing the brotherhood and camaraderie found in both realms.
While Garoppolo was a finalist for the USAA Salute to Service Award, the honor ultimately went to New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, a lieutenant from the Naval Academy. Cardona’s remarkable commitment to both football and military service exemplifies the dedication of many service members who juggle multiple responsibilities with unwavering dedication.
Recognizing Cardona’s achievements, USAA will contribute $25,000 to military aid societies in his honor, with an additional match from the NFL Foundation. This gesture underscores the ongoing support and appreciation for military members, ensuring their continued recognition and assistance.
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