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 Buffalo Bills as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative in November. The game is presented by USAA, the official Salute to Service partner of the Browns and NFL, which works with the league to honor and recognize service members and veterans with unique experiences around NFL calendar events.
Cleveland will recognize servicemen and servicewomen from each military branch, as well as family members who support them, throughout this weekend's game while incorporating various in-stadium elements and tributes to local heroes. The Browns will also host the USO of Northern Ohio, a First and Ten community partner of the team.
During pregame, USAA Military Affairs Representative Mike Warner will join the Browns at midfield as the team's honorary Browns Give Back First and Ten Coin Toss Captain. Warner served in the military for more than 32 years (29 with Air Force, 3.5 with US Army Reserve) and retired in 2016 as the Command Chief Master Sergeant for Air Force Materiel Command at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio. In addition to his military service, he was also selected for his dedication to giving back in the local community, including support of fellow service members throughout the year. Specific to this week's Salute to Service game, Warner will present the game's officials a unique military challenge coin, designed and created by USAA, that will be used for the coin toss.
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 members of the organization and the Ohio National Guard from each of the country's branches will be on the field pregame to present the nation's colors. At all Browns home games, the team displays its appreciation for the accomplishments 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 by four F-16s from the 180th Fighter Wing Air National Guard from Toledo Air National Guard Base following the national anthem (weather permitting).
JC Tretter, Mack Wilson and Hanford Dixon visited the US Coast Guard Station at Cleveland Harbor, in partnership with USAA to learn about the group's year round efforts, including its assignments during Browns home games.
During the first quarter, United States Marine Corps Veteran Corporal Micah Herndon will serve as the team's Dawg Pound Captain. A Tallmadge, Ohio native, Herndon finished the 2019 Boston Marathon in inspiring fashion and was motivated to complete the race in tribute to individuals he spent time with in the military, who ultimately sacrificed their lives for the country.
In partnership with USAA, the Browns will feature several other special Salute to Service moments during the game, including honoring all military members in attendance. Additionally, USAA will showcase a new vignette featuring military appreciation moments, which has occurred and will continue throughout the season.
The NFL and Browns on Monday announced that General Manager John Dorsey would represent the team as its 2019 Salute to Service Award nominee, 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. Dorsey – who is always highly involved in military members' VIP visits to the team's training facility in Berea, particularly during training camp – attended Leonard Hall Junior Military Academy in Leonardtown, Md. and Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy, which inducted him into the institute's Hall of Fame in 2016.
Aligned with the Salute to Service campaign, C JC Tretter, rookie LB Mack Wilson and Browns Legend CB Hanford Dixon on Tuesday visited the US Coast Guard Station at Cleveland Harbor, in partnership with USAA. Following a meet and greet with Coast Guard representatives onsite, the players received a unique tour of the facility and shipped out on Lake Erie to learn about the group's year-round efforts, including its assignments during Browns home games.
Earlier on Tuesday, Browns staff members and volunteers from Elk & Elk prepared 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. To personalize the packages, Browns players – including Dee Haslam, Executive Vice President JW Johnson, TE Pharaoh Brown, DT Brandin Bryant, QB Garrett Gilbert, G Colby Gossett, T Drew Forbes, QB Baker Mayfield, G Malcolm Pidgeon, QB Drew Stanton and C Willie Wright – penned notes of appreciation and encouragement for troops, complementing the daily supplies.
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.
Also on gameday, a group from the Vietnam Veterans will be hosted as VIP guests with a complementary suite and a pregame field experience.
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. Browns Alumni Joe Thomas (2010), RB Eric Metcalf (2013) – who was 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 non-profit 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 $34 million has been raised through Salute to Service to support the league's military non-profit partners.
About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team's signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit www.clevelandbrowns.com/brownsgiveback.
Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed, highlighted by the "Get 2 School, Stay in the Game!" Network. The "Get 2 School" Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and put an end to chronic absenteeism. The team engages local schools and promotes quality education by using attendance data and feedback from families to build a school-going culture, uncover and reduce common barriers to attendance and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive. To learn more, visit Get2School.org.
Youth Football – The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns' goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.
First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community. To date, more than 2 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team's website and by sharing their stories with #give10.
About the USO of Northern Ohio:
Since 1941, the USO of Northern Ohio has served as a private, civilian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no direct government funding but relies solely on the generosity of corporations, organizations and the American people. The USO of Northern Ohio touches the lives of nearly 50,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and their families throughout the 31-county region. For more than 75 years, the USO of Northern Ohio has provided morale, recreation and social services to US Armed Forces personnel and their families through its programs and services. USONO Center facilities are located in the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), Cleveland Hopkins Airport, the NOSC in Toledo, Youngstown Air Reserve Station and care package processing centers in Warren and West Geauga. The network of hundreds of volunteers donates nearly 20,000 hours of service annually in honor of these brave men and women.
The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 13 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable – and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com.