Cleveland Browns linebacker D’Qwell Jackson has long admired the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States military, and soon, he will get a chance to express that appreciation to the troops in person.
Along with Denver cornerback Champ Bailey and linebacker Von Miller, Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith, Houston defensive end J.J. Watt, and Pittsburgh guard Davin Joseph, Jackson will visit U.S. military bases overseas as part of the 2013 NFL-USO Tour.
“I’ve always had a profound respect for our troops and it’s going to be an exciting time,” Jackson said. “I can’t wait to make that long trip. It’s going to be well worth it. I know we’re going to be welcomed with open arms and I just want to be able to show my appreciation for everyone over there.
“I just felt like it was an opportunity of a lifetime, and just having the utmost respect for our troops, the men and women who sacrifice their lives and the courage that they have to support a cause, it was only right that if I was ever given the opportunity to meet and greet and actually be a part of a trip like this that the NFL holds every year, to be with the troops in their element was the opportunity of a lifetime. I couldn’t pass it up.”
When talking about the trip, Jackson emphasized that he has one mission.
“The only thing I can do is just show my appreciation, show the troops, the men and women, how much they’re appreciated in the States, show the gratitude we have for them and their families,” Jackson said. “It’s not an easy thing to do and they’re doing it. They’re living it, and if I could take their minds off of whatever they’re going through, then, so be it. I’m just going over there open-minded to have a little fun and hang out with the troops.”
Expressing appreciation to the military is nothing new to Jackson. In November of 2011, he joined Browns center
There, Jackson and his teammates learned about the process of enlisting in the U.S. military, including the background and medical-history checks potential recruits undergo before being sworn in and sent off to boot camp.
At the end of the M.E.P.S. visit, Jackson watched many young men and women take the oath to defend the United States “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”
“I think it’s a mutual respect,” Jackson said. “Those guys respect what we do on a daily basis, and the whole world admires what they do. It’s a totally different spectrum. We play a game, and what they’re doing is real life. Not only is the NFL doing a great job of appreciating the men and women for sacrificing their lives, but in our world, everyone has the utmost respect and humility for all those men and women that sacrifice the time in their lives for a common cause.
“It’s a great honor. To say you’ve been on the ground with American troops miles and miles away from your home is something in itself. I’m fortunate enough that the NFL chose me to be a part of the trip. I’m going over there representing the Cleveland Browns’ organization and also my family.”
Jackson is the latest Browns player to join the NFL-USO Tour.
In 2012, Mack joined the NFL-USO Tour. Two years prior to Mack’s visit, six-time Pro Bowl left tackle
“I’ve spoken to Alex Mack and he had a great trip,” Jackson said. “He was saying he wished the trip was a week longer. He definitely had an eye-opening experience. He enjoyed the troops and he was welcomed with open arms. He had nothing to say but good things about the trip and what he learned just being around and sharing stories with the troops and running into many Cleveland Browns fans.”