A Different Kind of Uniform
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. Though some may not understand those words, they are very powerful for many. At 11:00 O'Clock on 11 November 1918 the Armistice was signed that put an end to the "War to end all Wars" (World War I). As we, as a nation, celebrate Veterans Day today, we remember those that have served and currently serve our country. How does this relate to sport, particularly football you might ask? Well, since its inception in 1920 the National Football League and its players have often times removed one uniform to don another, temporarily putting aside or leaving behind one passion to protect another.
More than 1,300 NFL players and personnel have interrupted, stopped, or cut short their pro football careers to answer the call of duty. The most notable interruption for service occurred during World War II (1941-45) when approximately 1,000 NFL players, coaches, and owners were either drafted into or opted for military service. Names often associated with gridiron legend – Chuck Bednarik, Art Donovan, Lou Groza, Sid Luckman, Wellington Mara, Marion Motley, Norm Van Brocklin, the list goes on – halted their careers and fame to do their part to protect the Red, White and Blue.
Chuck Bednarik, one of the NFL's last true 60-minute players, served as a waist gunner on B-24 heavy bombers having flown 30 missions over enemy territory before embarking on what would become a Hall of Fame career. Roger Staubach attended the Naval Academy and completed four years of Military service prior to reporting to the Dallas Cowboys.
When you hear these names, more than likely what dances through your head are images of number 60, 12, 70, etc. and you may not think of or know about their military service. Don't worry, we've got you covered! An important part of our collection here at the Hall of Fame is our vast photo archive. Included in the 2,000,000 photos are images of Hall of Famers such as Bednarik and Staubach wearing a different kind of uniform. We've pulled a few of those images from the collection and posted them to our Flickr account for you to enjoy.
Another way we strive to honor not only our Hall of Famers that have answered the call but all of the NFL family that have served during times of crises is with our Football and the American Spirit exhibit.
Currently on display at the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, the popular traveling exhibit tells the story of professional football players and personnel who served our nation in the armed forces from World War II to Desert Storm and the conflict in Afghanistan. Here's an online version of the exhibit.
We would like to take this opportunity to wish all who have served, a Happy Veterans Day.
Go back to all blog listings