The Cleveland Browns will highlight their year-round platform of local and national military appreciation by honoring military personnel, veterans and their families throughout this week and the home game against the Houston Texans as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative in November.
Cleveland will recognize servicemen and servicewomen from each military branch, as well as family members who support them, during this weekend's game while incorporating various in-stadium elements and tributes to local heroes. The Browns will also host members of the Army who recently returned home in collaboration with the USO of Northern Ohio, a Browns Give Back First and Ten community partner, at the game.
Veterans from all military branches, selected by the USO of Northern Ohio, will be celebrated in the "Hats Off to Our Heroes Honor Row." At all Browns home games, the team displays its appreciation for the accomplishments of those who support the country and community, including military members, police, firefighters, first responders and other local heroes. Launched following the 9/11 tragedy, the in-stadium moment is shared on the team's video boards during the first quarter so the Browns and fans have a shared opportunity to thank these individuals for their service.
During pregame, veteran Generald Wilson, a retired US Navy Petty Officer who served the country for more than 20 years, will sing the national anthem, followed by a flyover from the Ohio Air National Guard's 179th Airlift Wing, stationed at Mansfield Lahm Air National Guard Base (weather permitting). Browns players will also take the field while carrying flags representing each of the military's branches.
Additionally, Eric Ohman, a Navy veteran who is currently serving as a firefighter and paramedic in Canton, will serve as the team's honorary Dawg Pound Captain.
The NFL and Browns on Wednesday announced that FB Andy Janovich was named the team's 2020 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. Janovich – who joined the Browns via trade from the Broncos during the 2020 offseason – has consistently displayed his appreciation for active military members and veterans throughout his career, including his involvement with "Hunting with Soldiers." Through "Hunting with Soldiers," Janovich and the non-profit organization strive to assist veterans impacted by PTSD, offering comforting experiences activities in nature at no cost, including hunting and fishing.
On Tuesday, Browns staff members and Elk & Elk representatives hosted a drive-through event to show their support of military families, along with the USO of Northern Ohio. Following the occasion, the partnership will help supply 100 military families with care packages, including Browns Salute to Service-themed gifts, family games, children's books and a gift card from Meijer, the team's official grocery supercenter.
As part of Browns Salute to Service efforts, this drive-through style event invited 100 families of currently deployed service members to receive a care package filled with items such as Browns branded gifts, family games, books and more.
As the Ohio National Guard continues its weekly food distribution efforts in the Cleveland Municipal Lot with the Greater Cleveland Food Bank, another Browns Give Back community partner, the Browns and Arby's will deliver lunch to representatives on site to thank them for their ongoing contributions to Northeast Ohio families in need during the pandemic.
Also on gameday, a group from the Fisher House Foundation will be hosted as VIP guests with a complementary suite. The Fisher House Foundation builds comfort homes where military members' and veterans' families can stay free of charge while a loved one is in the hospital.
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) and 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 $44 million has been raised through Salute to Service to support the league's military non-profit partners.