The Cleveland Browns will highlight their year-round platform of local and national military appreciation by recognizing military personnel, veterans and their families throughout Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative.
Cleveland will salute and host servicemen and servicewomen from each military branch during the contest, incorporating various in-stadium elements and tributes to these local heroes. The Browns will also show their appreciation for the USO of Northern Ohio, a community partner of the First and Ten volunteering campaign.
During pregame, HM1 Reggie Burton will serve as the Browns First and Ten Coin Toss Captain. Burton serves with both the Navy and Marines and also volunteers extensively to support the USO and military families.
Veterans who served our country in various wars will be celebrated in the Hats Off to Our Heroes Honor Row, which recognizes and salutes the accomplishments and services of those who support our country and communities, as well as local heroes, at each Browns home game.
More than 30 active members of the Ohio National guard will also be on the field during pregame to hold the American flag.
On November 9, the Browns will host members of the US Marine Corps at the team's field house in Berea for an official Marine Combat Test, one of the final rigorous steps before individuals become full-fledged members of the specialized U.S. service group.
During the team's practice on Veterans Day, Cleveland will also welcome members of the USO of Northern Ohio for an exclusive viewing opportunity, as well as a meet-and-greet with Browns players immediately following the session.
For the second time in as many years, the Browns nominated C Alex Mack, a two-time Pro Bowl selection (2010, 2013), for the NFL's Salute to Service Award in recognition of his dedication and commitment to those who serve our country. Mack, who started all 85 career games and played all 5,279 consecutive offensive snaps to begin his career prior to suffering a season-ending injury in Week 6 of 2014, this past offseason embarked on his second NFL-USO Tour to visit troops in Southwest Asia and the Middle East. In 2011, the seventh-year player traveled more than 10,000 miles overseas to interact with troops serving in the Middle East. Mack, who has multiple family members who have served or are serving in military branches, has consistently supported Northeast Ohio servicemen and servicewomen since being drafted by the Browns in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft through multiple First and Ten visits with military personnel.
The Salute to Service Award, presented by USAA, is an annual award whereby the NFL and USAA honor excellence in military-appreciation efforts by NFL coaches, players and staff.
The Salute to Service campaign aligns with an NFL tradition of supporting America's armed services, including a more than 45-year partnership with the USO that hosts overseas visits to troops and trips to military hospitals nationwide. Mack (2011, 2014) and OL Joe Thomas (2010) have participated in the weeklong NFL-USO Tours during past offseasons, when they interacted with military personnel on bases overseas. Former Browns RB Eric Metcalf, inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends in 2008, also joined an NFL-USO Tour in 2013.
Thomas also sponsors a Browns season-ticket program for "Thomas' Troops," which offers members of the USO of Northern Ohio who are deployed or will soon be deployed free tickets and custom T-shirts throughout the season.
The USO of Northern Ohio will also have representatives present at the First and Ten tent on Dawg Pound Drive, a 900-foot engaging space on Alfred Lerner way that is free and open to all Browns fans with or without tickets beginning three hours prior to kickoff.
Since its inception 2011, Salute to Service has extended the NFL's long history of honoring veterans and active duty members of the military, with the NFL donating more than $2.35 million to its three military non-profit partners during that stretch through the platform.
Unifying and elevating the extensive military-appreciation work of the NFL and its clubs, each team will display a number of Salute to Service-branded elements in its stadium for a designated home game in November. Components include camouflage goal-post wraps, towels, gloves and other equipment, as well as footballs, pylons, banners and lapel pins with the NFL camouflage ribbon.
Game-used items will be collected following Salute to Service games and auctioned on NFL Auction, with 100 percent of net proceeds donated to the league's three core military non-profit partners: the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.