The Cleveland Browns will highlight their year-round platform of local and national military appreciation by honoring military personnel, veterans and their families throughout Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative during Weeks 9-11.
Cleveland will host and recognize servicemen and servicewomen from each military branch throughout this weekend's game while incorporating various in-stadium elements and tributes to local heroes. The Browns will also welcome and highlight the USO of Northern Ohio, a First and Ten community partner of the team.
During pregame, retired Marine Gunnery Sergeant Roy Wesley Brady Jr. will be honored as the team's First and Ten Coin Toss Captain. Brady served his country for more than 20 years and remains dedicated to supporting military members. Through Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, Brady recently walked across the country (San Diego, Calif. to Trenton, NJ) for the second time to raise awareness and funds for combat wounded and mentally wounded veterans.
Members of the USO of Northern Ohio representing multiple military branches will be celebrated in the Hats Off to Our Heroes Honor Row, while additional representatives from the organization and the Ohio National Guard will be on the field pregame with the American flag. At all Browns home games, the team recognizes and salutes the accomplishments and services of those who support our country and communities, as well as local heroes throughout the year through the Hats Off to Heroes Honor Row.
Additionally, the team will have a flyover from four F-16s following the national anthem (weather permitting).
This week's halftime will feature members of the US Marine Corps for a Marine Combat Fitness Test Showcase, a demonstration of one of the final rigorous steps before individuals become full-fledged members of the specialized U.S. service group.
Last week, the NFL and Browns announced that 10-time Pro Bowl LT Joe Thomas would represent the team as its 2018 Salute to Service Award nominee. It marks back-to-back years that Thomas was selected to represent the team for the Salute to Service Award, which annually recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community, as nominated by NFL clubs. In addition to being highly involved in all team programs supporting military members and their families throughout his career, Thomas participated in the 2010 NFL/USO Tour, annually hosted a season-ticket program for members of the USO of Northern Ohio and continues to recognize the importance of military servicemen's and servicewomen's efforts through his involvement with Mission BBQ.
On Tuesday, Browns players – including WR Antonio Callaway, TE Orson Charles, OL Austin Corbett, RB Duke Johnson Jr., K Greg Joseph, DB Damarious Randall, DB Denzel Rice, QB Drew Stanton and OL Earl Watford – and team staff prepared a total of nearly 600 care packages and deployment bags for local troops through the USO of Northern Ohio. The packages included daily care necessities for the military men and women, as well as Browns Salute to Service items. Elk & Elk also enhanced the community initiative by providing additional volunteers and a financial contribution to ensure as many servicemen and servicewomen as possible received a parcel from the team.
Prior to Sunday's dedicated Salute to Service game, the Browns will continue its involvement in the City of Cleveland's Veterans Day Parade on Friday. In honor of Veterans Day, the team will also host 10 World War II veterans for a private tour of the facility on November 20.
The USO of Northern Ohio will also be represented 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. USO of Northern Ohio volunteers will share information about their services and on how fans can help their efforts to impact military members and their families.
Aligned with the Salute to Service theme, the first 3,000 fans entering FirstEnergy Stadium through the CREE LED Lighting Gate on the northeast side of the stadium will receive a Browns/CREE dog tag.
The Salute to Service campaign aligns with an NFL tradition of supporting America's armed services, including a more than 50-year partnership with the USO that hosts overseas visits to troops and trips to military hospitals nationwide. Thomas (2010), alumnus RB Eric Metcalf (2013) – inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends in 2008 – and other former Browns personnel have participated in weeklong NFL-USO Tours, where they interacted with and thanked military personnel on multiple bases overseas.
Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor and support members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service. The league's year-round military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring veterans, active duty service members and their families.
The NFL works with its core military nonprofit partners to show gratitude for all those who have served our country. The NFL, along with its partners, is proud to support the Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO, Wounded Warrior Project and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, to fund programs and provide resources that positively impact veterans and active duty military members and their families. Since 2011, more than $26 million has been raised through Salute to Service to support the league's military nonprofit partners.
Continuing in 2018, the NFL will donate $5 to its military nonprofit partners for every use of #SalutetoService on Twitter, up to a total of $5 million.