19 Gold Jackets return from Israel


Nineteen members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame returned on Tuesday night from a week-long tour of Israel. The historic trip was called “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence.”

The trip provided an opportunity for the football legends to witness the growth of the game in Israel, journey through historic sites, and experience the country. “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence” was sponsored through the generosity of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Impetus for the trip came from a March 2014 visit by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. The Ambassador, an avid football fan and a former quarterback in Israel’s American Football League, spent the day at the Hall with his son and staff. Dermer then reached out to Hall of Fame President David Baker to hatch the idea of inviting a group of Gold Jackets to Israel. Baker traveled with the group during the trip that took place June 16-23.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Mission is to “Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve its History, Promote its Values & Celebrate Excellence EVERYWHERE.” Israeli football fans and youth players engaged with the 19 Gold Jackets during two scheduled events. The programs were created for the Gold Jackets to provide inspiration to future generations of fans in Israel by sharing stories from their legendary careers and by illustrating how they applied values learned from the game to their lives after football.

Other highlights of the tour included visits to an Israel Defense Forces base, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea, and a private meeting with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

More coverage of the historic trip is coming to soon!

Gold Jackets who participated in “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence:"

Raymond Berry – Class of 1973 – End – 1955-1967 Baltimore Colts
Mel Blount – Class of 1989 – Cornerback – 1970-1983 Pittsburgh Steelers
Tim Brown – Class of 2015 – Wide Receiver/Kick Returner/Punt Returner – 1988-2003 Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, 2004 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Curley Culp – Class of 2013 – Defensive Tackle – 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs, 1974-1980 Houston Oilers, 1980-81 Detroit Lions
Chris Doleman – Class of 2012 – Defensive End/Linebacker – 1985-1993, 1999 Minnesota Vikings, 1994-95 Atlanta Falcons, 1996-98 San Francisco 49ers
John Hannah – Class of 1991 – Guard – 1973-1985 New England Patriots
Mike Haynes – Class of 1997 – 1976-1982 New England Patriots, 1983-1989 Los Angeles Raiders
Ken Houston – Class of 1986 – Strong Safety – 1967-1972 Houston Oilers, 1973-1980 Washington Redskins
Paul Krause – Class of 1998 – Safety – 1964-1967 Washington Redskins, 1968-1979 Minnesota Vikings
Floyd Little – Class of 2010 – Running Back – 1967-1975 Denver Broncos
Tom Mack – Class of 1999 – Guard – 1966-1978 Los Angeles Rams
Curtis Martin – Class of 2012 – Running Back – 1995-97 New England Patriots, 1998-2005 New York Jets
Ron Mix – Class of 1979 – Offensive Tackle – 1960-1969 Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers, 1971 Oakland Raiders
Jim Taylor – Class of 1976 – Fullback – 1958-1966 Green Bay Packers, 1967 New Orleans Saints
Thurman Thomas – Class of 2007 – Running Back – 1988-1999 Buffalo Bills, 2000 Miami Dolphins
Andre Tippett – Class of 2008 – Linebacker – 1982-1993 New England Patriots
Roger Wehrli – Class of 2007 – Cornerback – 1969-1982 St. Louis Cardinals
Rayfield Wright – Class of 2006 – Tackle – 1967-1979 Dallas Cowboys
Jack Youngblood – Class of 2001 – Defensive End – 1971-1984 Los Angeles Rams


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