Each year the NFL is afforded the unique opportunity to showcase the league's commitment to the military through its special events. With its widely captivated fan base, the league teams with its military support partners to create moments of joint recognition throughout the season. The NFL is proud of its long lasting and historic ties to the military and looks to incorporate those relationships into all big moments on the NFL calendar.
The NFL has made it an annual tradition to bring military outreach to its marquee off-season event. Representatives from each branch of the military were invited by Commissioner Goodell to New York for the 2014 NFL Draft, where they were honored on-stage and given the opportunity to announce a team's selection throughout the event. Several hundred members of the United States Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, Navy, and Navy Seals were in attendance over the course of three days. The NFL also saluted the efforts of service men and women injured in combat through its partnership with the Wounded Warrior Project. The rousing ovations from a packed Radio City Music Hall have become among the most inspiring moments of the Draft, as these tributes enable fans from all 32 teams to come together and unite for a true Salute to Service.
For decades the NFL and the military have had a close relationship at the Super Bowl, the most watched program year-to-year throughout the United States. In front of more than 160 million viewers, the NFL salutes the military with a unique array of in-game celebrations including the presentation of colors, on-field guests, pre-game ceremonies and stadium flyovers.
During Super Bowl XLIX week, the Pat Tillman Foundation and the Wounded Warriors Project invited veterans to attend the Salute to Service: Officiating 101 Clinic at NFL Experience Engineered by GMC in Arizona. The veterans joined NFL officials and representatives from the local officiating community to learn about basic football rules and officiating philosophies.
The NFL and USAA also recognized Chicago Bears defensive end Jared Allen, the 2014 Salute to Service Award winner, at "4th Annual NFL Honors," an awards show celebrating the best plays and players from the 2014 season. Created in 2011, the Salute to Service Award acknowledges members of the NFL Community for their exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community and their families.
Providing a rich Pro Bowl experience to military personnel and their families is important to the NFL. The NFL annually donates game tickets to service members, presents color guard and pregame flyovers, and arranges for military personnel to participate in pregame ceremonies.
As part of NFL PLAY 60 Community Blitz at Pro Bowl 2015, players, coaches and community volunteers visited service members and their families at Luke Air Force Base in Glendale, Ariz., and the Arizona National Guard Armory in Phoenix, Ariz. During Blitz activities, NFL players worked as "Airman for a Day" before hosting video-chat sessions for deployed airmen and their families at Luke Air Force Base. A NFL PLAY 60 youth fitness challenge and cheerleader clinic took place at Luke Elementary School, adjacent to the base. At the Arizona National Guard Armory, Pro Bowl players worked alongside National Guard, United Way and USAA volunteers to build a fitness trail that the Guardsmen will use to stay service-fit, while 150 students took part in a NFL PLAY 60 fitness clinic.
The NFL also offered the military community a unique opportunity to watch the players up-close by hosting its 2015 NFL Pro Bowl practice at Luke Air Force Base. The event was open to all military personnel and their families, and following practice, included pictures, autographs and words of appreciation for the troops and their families.