Richardson surprises local serviceman

Posted Sep 3, 2013

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson surprised Senior Airman Nicholas Coffee at the Cleveland M.E.P.S. Center Tuesday.

CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns running back Trent Richardson enjoys giving back to and making a difference in the lives of Browns fans all over the world, but as the saying goes, “Charity begins at home.”

Richardson gave back by surprising lifelong Browns fan, Nicholas Coffee, with a visit at the Cleveland Military Entrance Processing Station on Tuesday. Coffee, a Senior Airman in the U.S. Air Force, has spent the last three years stationed at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea and is home on leave to attend Sunday’s home opener against the Miami Dolphins.

“It means a lot,” Richardson said. “We’ve got guys like him that give their all. He reminds me a lot of the football field. You’ve got guys that just give that extra, that 110 percent, but this man is fighting every day for us, for our freedom and for us to be us. Guys like that, you’ve got to appreciate them and give them all the glory. You’ve got to give glory to God, too, that he’s here with us.

“He’s been deployed for three years and he’s hardworking, has dedication. Hopefully, we can lift his spirits a little bit higher. It’s something that he’s earned. People don’t realize how big of a part he plays in our lives. There are other guys on his staff that impact our lives.”

Much like on Sundays in the NFL, surprising the Senior Airman from Litchfield, Ohio, was a total team effort.

Coffee’s Master Sergeant, Jason Ash, contacted the Browns about doing something special for his top-performing Airman. According to the Master Sergeant, Coffee has always exceeded the expectations of every task given to him. On a weekly basis, Coffee works with the 2nd Infantry Division to remove 53-foot containers as a part of Camp Clean-Up. For his efforts, Coffee received the honor of Airman of the Quarter during his first three months in South Korea.

In addition to his Master Sergeant’s request, Coffee’s family came with him to the Cleveland M.E.P.S. center. Along with the commander of the post, Lt. Colonel Bill Schlichtig, Coffee’s family was able to distract the Senior Airman prior to Richardson’s arrival.

“This is great,” Coffee said. “I would’ve never expected this. They were telling me I had to sign paperwork and everything. When you turn around and see Trent, it’s great. I was real surprised.

“I was excited to meet Trent. That was great. I’ve never met a famous football player or baseball player, so for him to take time out of his busy day, that was exciting. It’s real great for him to come out here and show us his support for the hometown fans.”

Although he is stationed halfway around the world in South Korea, Coffee is committed to following the Browns during the season. Of Coffee’s 41 fellow servicemen and women at his station, four are Browns fans, and they wake up at two or three o’clock every Monday morning to watch the games before going through physical training.

“There’s no fans like Browns fans,” Coffee said. “You go to work around the world and you see them. Nobody’s ashamed to say they’re a Browns fan.”

During the visit, Richardson presented Coffee with a game-used autographed football and a signed jersey, as well as two tickets, food vouchers and sideline passes for the home opener. Richardson, who admitted he had the same goosebumps as he does before running out of the tunnel before a home game at FirstEnergy Stadium, said giving back to the Cleveland community is important because of his family background.

“Growing up in my household, there were nine of us kids,” Richardson said. “My mom being a three-job working woman, we wished we could have some stuff like this. We’ve seen hard times. Guys like this, that’s fighting overseas for us, being the real heroes that we look up to, giving back to these guys and the community is big for me.”

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