The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY SPORTS

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

For many of us, the NFL has been a part of our lives as long as we can remember. Even for people who don’t watch or follow football, the Super Bowl is an annual event that brings the country together. Others will remember their father or some other loved one wearing their favorite team’s gear throughout their childhood. 

At the very least, there are celebrities, trendsetters and fashion fads that made certain NFL shirts, hats, jackets and other merchandise so popular, it became entrenched in our collective memory. 

Here are 10 legendary pieces of NFL merchandise: 

1. The 1990s Starter jacket 

In the mid-1990s, it seemed as if everyone in the world had a windbreaker-style pullover Starter jacket, emblazoned with the logo of the Dallas Cowboys or Oakland Raiders. Even people who never followed a football game or team in their lives rocked one at some point. There were so many of these jackets in America, many became hand-me-downs, worn for years after their popularity waned.

2. Late 1980s Snapback Raiders hat

On the surface, there’s not much special about the hat. There was no logo, only had two colors and there was a version for every team in every sport. But Dr. Dre of the rap group NWA wore it, and its popularity across the country skyrocketed. The Raiders’ name, team colors and – later – logo became more of a symbol of a lifestyle than about just the sport or team itself. 

3. Mike Ditka’s sweater vest

Arguably one of the most memorable NFL coaches ever, “Da Bears” coach Mike Ditka had a presence about him that you could feel through the television screen. The consummate professional head coach, Ditka could often be seen sporting a crisp white collared shirt, a tie, and sometimes a jacket – and also a blue and orange sweater vest with BEARS emblazoned across the front. 

When Ditka sported a similar vest featuring the colors and name of Chicago’s rival Green Bay Packers in a 2015 McDonald’s commercial, many Bears fans believed the team was cursed. 

4. The Starter hat

If it seems like a lot of the most memorable NFL swag came from the Starter brand, you aren’t crazy. While Starter didn’t have a corner on the sports merchandise market, its marketing team turned the MTV generation into Starter fanatics – even if they weren’t into sports. Hip-hop legend DJ Jazzy Jeff even had a series of commercials instructing people on how to properly personalize and wear their Starter hats.

5. San Diego Chargers’ powder blue jersey

The American flag being featured at a NFL game
(U.S. Navy Photo)

The Chargers were never the most popular NFL franchise in America. They weren’t even the most popular NFL franchise in San Diego. But the uniform that became a throwback jersey, hearkening back to the Chargers earliest seasons in Los Angeles, caught on across the country as the franchise revived the look for the league’s 1994 75th Anniversary Season. 

6. Bill Belichick’s hooded sweatshirt

If Bill Belichick showed up to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom wearing a sleeveless hoodie, no one would bat an eye. The five-star general of the National Football League is also the most successful person ever to be associated with the NFL. 

Belichick has more Super Bowl rings than the Pittsburgh Steelers and is likely (and deservedly) the highest-paid coach in the league. So he can afford to wear more than a hoodie with the sleeves cut off, but is so badass that no one will ever question him when he doesn’t. Not even the President. 

7. The Cheesehead

Fans in NFL merchandise, cheering on the Green Bay Packers
(Wikimedia Commons)

While many teams have tried to recreate the Green Bay Packers’ success with giant foam versions of their own logo or mascot, no one has had more cultural success with foam than Green Bay – especially considering their name is based in the meatpacking industry.

But if there’s anything Wisconsin is known for, it’s known for cheese (and its citizens colloquially called “cheeseheads”). After a Brewers fan showed up to a Milwaukee game in 1987 sporting an ironic homemade hunk of cheese on his head, the look caught fire and spread to other sports around the state. 

8. The Terrible Towel

Every Steelers fan worth their salt has one, and it doesn’t matter if they’ve been to a game at Three Rivers Stadium or Heinz Field. When the Steelers need their fans to jump in and help them win the game, you can count on seeing thousands of these yellow hand towels being waved around the stadium, whether Pittsburgh is the home team or not. 

9.  Don Schula’s polo shirts

The polo shirt has been in American fashion for around 100 years now, but slapping an NFL logo on them and calling it a professional look came into full effect when the league’s winningest coach ever wore them to lead the Miami Dolphins to a string of successful seasons, including the league’s only perfect one. An Ohio National Guard veteran who died at age 90 in 2020, Schula’s legacy endures to this day.

10. Walter Payton’s headband

There’s no doubt that the nine-time Pro Bowler is one of the greatest players to ever take the field. If the legendary running back known as “Sweetness” was immortalized in a photo, he was usually seen sporting a distinctive white headband that stood out against the deep blue of his Chicago Bears jersey. 

Though Payton died in 1999, his legacy as a humanitarian lives on the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given every year to the player who does extraordinary volunteer or charity work.

This post is sponsored by USAA, Official Salute to Service Partner of the NFL.

Articles

The Army’s very own Sagen Maddalena is headed to Tokyo for the women’s 3×40 event

“It’s a sport of millimeters,” said Specialist Sagen Maddalena of her upcoming Olympic debut.

The seasoned shooter is slated to compete in the women’s 3×40 rifle event – three positions, 40 shots each. That’s standing, sitting, and prone – all at 50-meters away. She also made the Olympic team as an alternate in the air rifle event, pictured above. 

“The target isn’t moving, so we try to be as accurate as possible,” she said. Even the slightest change in how she stands, her sights, could throw the shot off by, well, millimeters. And in the 3×40, it’s a change that could make all the difference.

This month, she’ll be representing the U.S. and the Army’s Marksmanship Unit as she heads to Tokyo. Shooting a .22 caliber Bleiker, Maddalena comes prepped with three sights – one set for each position – three rests, and specialty-wear galore. Depending on the position, she also adds various weights and cheek pieces. Because of the length of time it takes to shoot all 120 shots, 3×40 athletes ready their entire bodies with a thick, leather-like suit, shoes with plywood bottoms so the soles are completely flat and visors to block glare.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise
(U.S. Army)

It’s layers of gear, and a long-lasting event.

“One of the challenges for the sport is that you’re competing against yourself. The mind and the conditions can be huge for handling pressure,” she said.

Adding that keeping up a strict routine is key for her to remain in focus. By getting to the range early, she’s able to set up equipment, practice mindfulness and perform relaxation exercises, all while keeping her mind clear and heart rate down.

Maddalena’s routines aren’t just present on competition day. She trains that way most days of the week. Scheduling her shooting drills, looking at her shot data (yes she tracks where each round lands on target), physical training, carb-loading and icing her muscles — it’s all planned by the day. Much of her shooting, she said, is muscle memory. Maintaining those daily habits allows her body to do what it needs to when it matters most.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise
(USA Shooting)

“It’s action, perform and do. You have to just do it. You can’t stop and think,” she said. “It’s almost like a dance; I’m in tune with the wind and how it affects the bullet. My mind is sharp and I can adjust. It just flows. To be able to sustain that kind of dance with the mind and the flow of the body, it’s kind of an addiction.”

Maddalena took second in the 2016 Olympic trials, when the U.S. only brought one female air rifle athlete to compete. This time around they’re taking two and she nabbed the top spot.

She began shooting at 13 in her hometown of Groveland, California and went on to compete collegiately with the University of Alaska- Fairbanks, where she also switched specialties. Formerly a service rifle shooter, she transferred to the Smallbore/three-position rifle.

“I got the realization that I could shoot internationally and go further in the sport,” she said. “I had coaches telling me that I had options, and I wanted to travel. I wanted to see new places and see how far I could go.”

A dream which she’s now made a reality. Maddalena has traveled to India, Korea and Europe many times over.  

“I think that’s my favorite part of going to these different countries; you’re not just a tourist and you get to become more involved,” she said.

Soon she’ll add one more country to her checklist, as she heads to Japan as an Olympic athlete.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise
(USA Shooting)

After earning a bachelor’s degree in Natural Resources Management, she enlisted in the Army in 2019 and joined their Marksmanship Unit. She came with an impressive shooting background: an eight-time All-American with the Alaska-Fairbanks Rifle Team, a two-time World Championship team member, and breaking two national records in 2020, at the Blackhawk Championships and the ASSA National Championships.

On why she chose such a difficult practice, Maddalena said she enjoys the pressure, and improvements over time, even if they are slight.

“I like the progression of it. It slows down incredibly once we get to the top of our game, to see that improvement and progress. It keeps you going back for more,” she said. “When I first started shooting, the scores were not even close to what you needed to win. And now I’m here to test myself amongst the best in the world.”

Feature image: U.S. Army Marksmanship Unit

MIGHTY SPORTS

8 tips and tricks to build muscle faster

(Header image courtesy of John Fornander)

It is hard to build the kind of muscle that gets noticed on the street, in the office, or, hell, by your partner. It takes intention, planning, and hard work. The best functional strength training programs, after all, tend to not have an effect for weeks. If you’re looking for something more specific — and difficult — like getting big arms — you’re going to have to plan that much further in advance.

But what if you just need to build muscle fast? Whether it’s to look good for your college roommate’s BBQ pool party in a few weeks or just trying to jumpstart your strength training, there are a few tips and tricks to expedite the process. We’re not saying you’ll be looking super fit come next Saturday’s party or that you’ll be moving weights like your gym rats friend, but, hey, it’s a start.


1. Eat more, not less

It seems counterintuitive, but if you’re looking to build muscle, you need to slightly overfeed your body. Not only does your body need extra calories to build new muscle, but muscle burns more calories than fat so you have to reload on energy in order to support new muscle growth. Restricting calories to lose weight will backfire big time, since your body senses “starvation mode” and respond but shutting down the production of new muscle cells.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Alora Griffiths)

2. Increase your volume

You’ve probably heard that the amount of weight you use is the critical component to whether or not your build muscle. But actually, increasing your number of reps is equally essential for muscle growth. Switch up your lifting routine so that you spend at least one day a week lifting 50 to 75 percent of your one rep max, for 15-20 reps per set, aiming for about 6 sets.

3. Eat more protein

Protein is the more important building block for new muscles, so make sure you’re getting enough in your diet. According to the American College for Sports Medicine, if you’re looking to build muscle mass, aim for .5 to .8 grams of protein per pound of body weight, or about 95 to 148 grams of protein daily for a 185-pound guy.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Jonathan Borba)

4. Provide new stimulus

Known as the progressive overload principle, the fastest way to build more muscle is to force it to adapt to a stimulus above and beyond anything you’ve yet done. That means if you had been using 25-pound dumbbells for curls, you should try doing one set with 30 pounds, then progress to 35-pound weights.

5. Get your 7 to 9

The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night for optimal health. Achieving the prescribed dose of nightly sleep plays a key role in expediting muscle development. During sleep, muscle fibers that have been mildly damaged from a tough workout (not a bad thing, that’s how growth occurs) have a chance to repair themselves, knitting back together in a tighter formation that translates to muscle strength. If you cut your zzz’s short, you’re also shortening the amount of time your muscles have to grow.

6. Slow it down

The process of building new muscle, also known as hypertrophy, benefits from placing muscles under duress for an extended period of time. For this reason, rather than pumping iron as fiercely and frantically as you can, you should do at least one set of every strength-training exercise at slo-mo speed. And, yes, it burns.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Kyle Johnson)

7. Compound it

While isolation moves like biceps curls are great for honing in on one specific muscle, you’ll get the biggest bang for your strength-training buck with moves that recruit multiple muscle groups at once. That’s because the more mass you can put behind a move like squats, pullups or deadlifts, the greater the load your body can bear, and the stronger you can make your muscles.

8. Mix it up

Just like you need to test your muscles using progressive overload, you also need to surprise them by serving up new types of exercises every week. Your muscles, it turns out, are pretty smart. They very quickly adapt to whatever exercise you’re doing, so the next time you do it, it feels easier — because it is. Rather than fall into the same sequence of moves week after week, seek out new ones that are different enough that they stress slightly different parts of your body.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Here are 7 foot exercises for a stronger foundation

Twenty-six bones, 33 joints, and over 100 ligaments. That’s not your body we’re talking about — that’s just your feet. It’s an awful lot of moving parts to pack into a foot-long space. Throw on 180 or so pounds on top of that, and then consider that if you exercise, every running step you take multiplies the impact of your weight threefold, and you can see the kind of pressure your delicate foot structure is under day in and day out.

The perks of strengthening your feet are multifaceted. First, strong feet give your legs a durable base to push off from when you’re running, cycling, squatting, or doing whatever it is you like to do to stay fit. Second, strong feet are more resistant to foot pain, one of the most common sources of bodily aches right up there with back pain. Tight arches, sore heels, plantar fasciitis — all of these complaints are met with a physical therapist’s advice to build foot strength. By pre-emptively exercising your digits, you might avoid the pain altogether.

Make sense? Great. Here are 7 exercises to get you started. The whole series takes about 20 minutes and you should do it several times a week.


1. Towel scrunch

Sit in a chair with bare feet. Place a towel on the floor, about two feet in front on the chair. Using the toes on your right foot, extend your digits across the towel, then contract them, scrunching your toes together and pulling the fabric close to your chair. Release the towel and extend your toes against, grabbing more fabric and you scrunch them together. Continue reaching and scrunching until you have created a balled-up towel in front of your chair. Do three times.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Nino Liverani)

2. Arch raises

Sit in a chair, feet flat on the floor in front of you. Place one hand on either knee. Press down with your arms while simultaneously lifting your heels off the floor, resisting the pressure and rising onto your toes. Release. Do 3 sets of 10 reps.

3. Pick-up game

Take the pieces to your favorite board game like Monopoly (chess and checkers work, too), and scatter them on the floor. Sit in a chair in the middle of the mess. Using only your toes, grab, lift, and carry each piece to a nearby bucket where they will be stored. Continue until floor is clean. Bring the kids in on this one — it’s a family favorite.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Alexander Mils)

4. Foot flex

Tie an exercise band around the leg of a couch or bed. Sit on the floor, about two feet from the bed, and tie the other end of the band around your midfoot so that there is pressure on the band. Begin to flex and point your foot, keeping resistance on the band the whole time. Do 20 reps on one foot, then switch sides and repeat. Do three full sets.

5. Calf raises

The same exercise that tones your calves also builds strength and stability in your ankles. You can do these exercises with both feet at once, or one at a time. Stand facing a wall, about a foot away. Placing hands on the wall for balance as needed, rise up onto your toes and back down, making sure you roll up to the very top each time. Do 3 sets of 12 reps.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

(Photo by Clem Onojeghuo)

6. Blind balance

Stand in the middle of a room, feet shoulder-width apart. Shift your weight to the right side and lift your left foot off the floor 6 inches. Close your eyes. Attempt to count to 30 (30 seconds) while balancing with eyes closed. Repeat on opposite side.

7. Alphabet game

Stand next to a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Shift weight to the right side and lift your left foot in front of you, knee bent. Trying to maintain your balance (use the wall for support if necessary), begin to trace the letters of the alphabet in the air with your left foot. Work from A to Z, then switch sides and repeat.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

The best touchdown celebrations from 2018 so far

Riverdance is back. The Funky Chicken is back — all with the Chad Ochocinco seal of approval. The NFL relaxed the touchdown celebrations rule in 2017, the rule that led many fans to refer to the NFL as the “No Fun League.” And rightfully so; the most exciting part of the game is an awesome touchdown. The players deserve to celebrate but, more importantly, the fans want to see that excitement.


Players are really making the most of their post-touchdown euphoria in 2018. This year, we’ve seen celebrations that range anywhere from group activities to pop culture references to popular dance moves. They’re even bringing in looks from other sports. Going into week 6 of the 2018 season, these the fan favorites so far.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

10. Keenan Allen goes 6ix9ine

So what if you’re still down 18-31 in the fourth quarter, we’re still having a good time. At least Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen was, busting out the Tati during the Chargers’ season opener.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

9. Alvin Kamara joins Saints fans

What do you call it when a Saint outdoes any Lambeau Leap you’ve ever seen? A leap of faith? Ascending to heaven? Whatever you call it, some New Orleans fans now have an epic selfie.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

8.Eric Ebron revived and hyped

The Colts’ tight end plays Fortnite — who would’ve thought? If you’re confused by this, all you need to know is that Ebron isn’t pretending to be a horse, he just needed to be revived by his teammates, who then joined him in a hype dance.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

7. Donte Moncrief’s air guitar 

How does a Jaguars wide receiver celebrate drawing first blood against the Patriots? If you’re Donte Moncrief, you play some sweet licks on a guitar that only other Jags can hear.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

6. Tyreek Hill’s Forrest Gump impression

Next time Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill runs a punt return back for a touchdown, I hope Chiefs fans have a “STOP FORREST” sign ready to go. Hill ran off the field and emerged on the Chiefs’ sideline moments later.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

5. The Browns’ DBZ Fusion Dance

If you watched this season of HBO’s Hard Knocks, then you probably know that Browns tight ends Darren Fells and David Njoku have been planning this one for a while. They got their chance against the Raiders in Week 4.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

4. Cam Newton doing the bull dance

Doing the Superman, the bull dance, and feeling the flow. Newton scored on a short-yardage touchdown run only to ride the bull before doing his usual “superman” celebration.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

3. Demetrius Harris sinks a free throw

Do you have that friend who doesn’t watch football and makes the same lame joke about football players “scoring a basket?” Chiefs tight end Demetrius Harris scored a basket during this football game. Also, tell your friend that their joke wasn’t even funny the first time.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

2. JuJu Smith-Schuster gives birth

JuJu Smith-Schuster is not the first to give birth to a football, but this time around was much funnier than when then-Bengals corner back Pacman Jones did it to celebrate the birth of his baby. Steelers running back James Conner was his midwife. Baby and mother are doing fine.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

1. Dolphins high five at full sprint

What’s better than scoring a touchdown with a teammate? High-fiving that teammate at a full sprint as you cross the goal line against the Raiders. The Fins’ Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant need to have a photo of this moment framed and immortalized forever.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Blind Army vet inspires as Summer Sports ambassador

“It was a long walk into darkness … “

That’s how Chuck Miller describes his maddening descent into blindness — something he refused to accept as his world slipped away, little by little.

The Army veteran, who gets care at the Gainesville VA Medical Center, is the first blind veteran sailor certified by the American Sailing Association. He’s also an ambassador at the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic, where he connects with others to help them adjust to different disabilities.

The clinic brings blind, amputee and paralyzed veterans, and those living with post-traumatic stress, to San Diego, Calif., Sept. 15 to 20, for adaptive surfing, sailing, cycling and kayaking.


“One of the most difficult things about being disabled is acceptance. That to me is one of the biggest struggles veterans have…”

Miller stops and cries for a moment.

“You know, something significant changes in their lives and they try to ignore it. That’s what I did. I was a proud soldier. Being a soldier was everything to me.”

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Chuck Miller, a totally blind Army Veteran, has been an ambassador at the Summer Sports Clinic the last three years.

Going blind

Miller, a single dad with full custody of his son, was first diagnosed with spots on his retina in 1984.

“They just said, ‘You have something wrong with your eyes. They weren’t sure,” he said.

In 1990, his doctor diagnosed him with Retinitis Pigmentosa, a rare, genetic disorder that breaks down cells and creates scar tissue on the retinas.

“The retinas become so damaged, they’re basically dead,” Miller said. “The only problem I was having was night vision problems and some depth perception. It was difficult to accept. It went on for another 15 years and wasn’t at the point I couldn’t function. I was still driving, still doing normal work. It didn’t register at the time. I just thought, ‘Well, I got an eye problem.'”

By 2005, a doctor leveled with him. “You need to quit driving. You’re going to kill somebody if you don’t.”

“I still didn’t listen until I T-boned somebody in my car,” Miller said.

By 2009, he was blind, only seeing light but nothing else.

“I remember when I realized I was going blind, how terrified I was,” he said. “Just like every veteran, I went through a dark period. I drank, I did drugs, I wanted to kill myself. Thought I’m not worthy as a father, which is one of the most important things in my life. I literally pushed every single person away from me. I lost every friend I had as a sighted person.”

Fighting rehabilitation

Miller’s turning point came when he went to the Blind Rehabilitation Center at the Birmingham VA Medical Center.

“Don’t leave,” he told his friend who drove him there. “I’m not staying. I’m going back home. It’s not for me.”

His friend left anyway.

“That’s where you have to learn to be that disability,” he said. “You have to face it. That’s when you have to say, ‘Damn, I’m blind,’ or, “Damn, I’m this,’ or whatever,” Miller said.

He fought against instructors and struggled to learn skills needed to live in his sightless world. Instructors paired him with a roommate who was blinded at 18 in Vietnam, in hopes he could learn to accept it.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Chuck Miller chats with James Byrne, the deputy secretary of VA, while sailing with him at the Summer Sports Clinic.

“I was pretty angry,” Miller said. “The first couple of days, he’d lay in his bed, and he’d pray out loud to God, thanking him for his day, thanking God for being blind, and I’m thinking, ‘What the hell is wrong with you? How could you be so thankful for being disabled?'”

“Man, this is a gift, you just don’t know it yet,” his roommate said. “I get to see things different. I get to see how people are on the inside.”

Miller remembers one day in class, trying in frustration to put together a leather belt kit. The next day, his instructor gave him glasses that blocked out light.

“And I put that thing together in less than an hour,” he said. “I started to see through my fingers.”

Miller gave in, and his world without sight came into focus.

“They start taking me places. Up and down stairs, escalators, crossing four-lane roads. Before that, I wouldn’t go out without holding onto anybody. I learned braille. Found out I’m a natural. I’m sick, I actually took algebra in braille.”

Summer Sports Clinic

He put on a brave face at his first Summer Sports Clinic in 2015.

“I was talking all kinds of junk, but inside I was afraid,” he said. “It’s easy to picture doing this stuff in your mind, but doing it is scary. My first day was surfing, and I was pretty scared to go out there. I don’t know where the beach is at, I can’t see the water. At the end of the day, I was the last one out. I start thinking, ‘This is pretty freaking cool!’

“I had never sailed before in my life. You’re overwhelmed in that first year because there’s so much to take in, but from there I did a five-day sailing clinic in St. Petersburg, Florida, and they put me on a boat with a paraplegic in a wheelchair and a coach. And I’m thinking, ‘We’re screwed.’ But it’s all about exposure.”

Miller fell in love with sailing so much he got his American Sailing Certification with a score of 95 out of 100. He sails with a sighted coach, but does the work himself — untying ropes, hoisting the mast, trimming the sail to catch the wind, and steering.

“When I’m on the water,” he said, “I feel the wind blowing, the birds, the sounds of the ocean, the sun on my face. I enjoy it in a way that a sighted person can’t experience.”

Cory Kapes, who runs Warrior Sail at the clinic, said Miller sets the example. Kapes even let him steer the boat as he came into shore one day, where other boats were only 20 feet away.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Chuck Miller talks to a class of new sailing participants at this year’s Summer Sports Clinic.

“If these people knew I was blind, they’d have a heart attack,” Miller said.

“Just keep smiling and waving,” Kapes said with a laugh.

“It just shows you the impact this clinic can have,” Kapes said. “He never sailed a boat before he came here. He brought it home. That’s what we want other vets to do — bring it home, go kayaking, be committed, make it part of your active lifestyle.”

Ambassador

For the last three years as an ambassador, Miller traveled from Florida to San Diego by himself. When needed, he has a special pair of glasses with a built-in camera that connects him to a live agent to help him navigate. But more often than not, he uses his blind guiding cane.

Most veterans find Miller by his bright pink, volunteer T-shirt, cutting up and telling jokes.

“Hey nice to see you! Well, not really, but you get the idea … ” he tells one veteran.

“I’m Blind Chuck! Would it help if I take off my glasses?” he tells another. “Look, I take off my glasses, I don’t look blind. I put the glasses on, blind! I can look at you, but you know I can’t see you, right?”

He took the deputy secretary of Veterans Affairs on the water, making jokes and cutting up about everyone’s military branch while sailing.

Fellow veteran Michelle Marie Smith, who gets her care at the Sacramento VA, said listening to Miller at the sailing class was a highlight.

“Oh yeah,” she said. “It definitely puts everything in perspective. If I had any doubt, I don’t after listening to him.”

Miller said that’s what it’s all about.

“What I’ve learned from this clinic here – and this is important for veterans to understand – not only can you do things as a disabled person, get to know these volunteers, therapists and team leaders. The only thing they care about is teaching you how to do these sports. They want you to succeed and you just have to trust them.”

This article originally appeared on VAntage Point. Follow @DeptVetAffairs on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Which exercise style fits you best?

Nowadays, if you want to get fit, you don’t have to settle for rows of treadmills or an overpriced gym membership.

You can select a style of exercise that fits your personality and helps you accomplish your fitness goals without making you dread every minute.

But, getting started can be overwhelming! What IS all this stuff? What’s a WOD? An asana? Why do I need to pulse?

Check out this list, a collection of five popular styles of exercise: Yoga, Pilates, Pure Barre, CrossFit, and traditional exercise. Learn how they work, their benefits and what makes each one special.


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Focus on “you” with yoga

Sanskrit for “yoke” or “union,” yoga joins physical movement with breathing. Instructors typically begin classes with a centering and breathing exercise. Then you’ll move through a series of poses, or asanas, before cooling down and finishing with yoga’s signature “Namaste.”

Benefits of yoga

Yoga improves flexibility and increases strength. Even without burpees, you’ll raise your heart rate, which is great for your heart’s health. Military spouses will love the way yoga makes them feel happier, sleep better and stress less (deployment-blues cure, anyone?).

In fact, Army spouse and yoga instructor Hilary Mitchell says that the benefits of yoga are “endless.” If you explore how deeply the practice changes not only your body, but also your mind, you’ll experience the immense benefits, she says.

“Bring a positive and hopeful attitude to the classroom or home practice, trust your body and your instincts,” Hilary says. “Allow yourself the opportunity to just be yourself without restraint.”

Should I try yoga?

Yoga offers classes for all levels. Hatha or Vinyasa yoga are good for beginners, while Ashtanga and Bikram are more demanding.

Hilary recommends to read class descriptions and look for terms like “all levels” or “advanced” to help you choose a class.

Where can I find a yoga class?

Check out your installation’s gym or your local community’s gyms. Or, search online for free or low-cost videos.

“Always look for options nearby for yoga community events or classes too,” Hilary says.

Fire up your powerhouse with Pilates

Pilates also unites movement and breath, but its focus on the “powerhouse,” the body’s deep core, makes it unique. During a Pilates class, you’ll practice its six main principles: control, centering, concentration, precision, breath and flow.

Benefits of Pilates

Practicing Pilates can result in improved posture, increased strength and increased flexibility. It’ll help you shed pounds and boost your mental health, too.

Targeting your powerhouse can also benefit areas that can be embarrassing to talk about, but they’re crucial to your overall health.

Air Force spouse and certified Pilates instructor Samanta Saura-Perez says that working on deep core and pelvic floor muscles can help improve your sex life, recover after childbirth and even control incontinence.

“If we bring the desire to work and concentrate, the overall experience and benefits will be greater,” Samanta says. “By trusting your instructor, after few classes you will see a noticeable increase in mobility, strength and balance.

Should I try Pilates?

Pilates is especially good for people who are recovering from an injury and need a low-impact exercise, women recovering from childbirth and people experiencing back pain, Samanta says. She recommends that anyone with a health issue consult a doctor before trying a new form of exercise.

Where can I find a Pilates class?

Look for Pilates at your installation’s gym or at a local gym. Some communities will have dedicated Pilates studios, too.

Feel the burn with Pure Barre

Pure Barre is rooted in ballet, Pilates and yoga. The low-impact workout leads participants through a series of small, controlled, highly intense movements. You’ll “pulse” and “hold,” feeling Pure Barre’s signature burn, which means you’re activating important deep muscle fibers.

Benefits of Pure Barre

Pure Barre’s slogan, “lift, tone, burn!” accurately describes its effects, results and why people love it. Army spouse and Pure Barre instructor Claire Manganaro says that Pure Barre’s efficient and controlled movements are “creating and defining all major muscle groups.”

“The exercises performed in class safely strengthen core muscles used for increased strength and mobility,” she says.

But Claire says that the Pure Barre community is its “strongest asset.”

Claire has seen students step out of their comfort zones and find their place in the Pure Barre community, accomplishing major weight loss goals or coping with the death of a child.

She believes Pure Barre has the power to transform the “whole self.”

Should I try Pure Barre?

Pure Barre is designed to allow modifications for anyone. Claire says that, because it’s low-impact, it’s especially good for people who are recovering from an injury or pregnant.

Where can I find Pure Barre?

Find a class in over 500 Pure Barre studios nationwide. If you’re OCONUS, search “Pure Barre On Demand” in the App Store!

Unleash your inner bad-ass with CrossFit

CrossFit workouts are varied and intense, and people love them! Classes begin with a group warm-up and skills-building session, in which participants fine-tune particular abilities. The WOD (workout of the day) changes everyday, and includes rowing, squats, kettle bell swings and more.

Benefits of CrossFit

Metabolic conditioning and functional movements burn calories, build muscle and reduce the risk of injury. Plus, they improve balance and agility.

Air Force spouse and certified CrossFit trainer Anna C. Olson says that, while she sees people get stronger and shed pounds, she also sees how CrossFit helps people grow more confident. People are surprised by their accomplishments, which makes them feel “unstoppable,” she says.

Anna also says the community is unique and powerful. “When you are most vulnerable and are tired during the workout, doubting if you can finish, there is someone next to you cheering you on, telling you that they know you can do it,” she says.

Should I try CrossFit?

CrossFit is adaptable to your fitness level and abilities. It uses a lot of special terms and equipment, but Anna says that being patient and setting one or two goals at a time will help you adjust.

“You don’t have to be the fastest or fittest,” she says. “You just have to try.”

“And remember that quitting won’t speed it up!” she adds.

Where can I find CrossFit?

Check for CrossFit at your installation, or search CrossFit.com for a local workout. This can be helpful if you’re on the road (hello, PCS season!) and desperate for a workout.

Keep it real with traditional exercise

If specialized parameters aren’t your jam, traditional exercise might be what you need. “The gym” can be a fitness center or your backyard, allowing you to get creative with an effective aerobic and strength-training workout.

Navy spouse and certified personal trainer Cheryl Roth says that pushups, squats, deadlifts, rows, pullups, overhead presses and lunges will keep you healthy and get results.

Benefits of traditional exercise

Exercising regularly will build muscle, create lasting energy and improve brain function. And don’t forget it’ll also burn calories and help you fit into those skinny jeans.

But well-planned exercise can help you accomplish basic daily activities, Cheryl says, so think about your goals. If you’re a parent who struggles to get down to and up from the floor, include squats and lunges in your routine.

If your shoulders are rounded from sitting at a computer or bending over, Cheryl says this could be a sign of a “tight chest and weak upper back.” She recommends opening your chest with a standing doorway stretch and strengthening your back with a seated row.

Should I try traditional exercise?

Traditional exercise gives you total control to design your own routine. With this in mind, Cheryl says to “come armed with a plan.”

“Know which exercises you want to incorporate that day, the weights you will use, and how many sets and reps you will do,” she says. This will help you stay focused and avoid wasting time.

Where should I go to exercise?

If you need help using the gym’s equipment, ask a trained staff member. If you need guidance at home, search YouTube for an exercise routine. Or, work with a trainer like Cheryl, who owns Me Time Health and Fitness, and works with clients online.

And there you have it! Which exercise style fits you best? Which one are you ready to try?

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This veteran-backed NASCAR team is heading to Daytona

It’s shake and bake, veteran style. NASCAR is well known for being military friendly. When the green flag waves at Daytona this weekend, it will usher in the new NASCAR season with a really special story. The crown jewel event is the Daytona 500. On Saturday, the day before the 500, there is a race called the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 which ushers in the Xfinity Series season. One of the cars racing to win the 300 should be the favorite of all military supporters around the country.


The Our America Dream Team car won’t have the familiar sponsors you see on all the other race cars. Instead, they will feature veteran-owned businesses as the car trades rubber with all the cars on the track.

How is this possible? The team crowdfunded to raise money so they could race. In return for donations, veteran-owned businesses will be featured on the car racing around one of the world’s most famous race tracks during one of racings marquee weekends.

The car will be driven by Colin Garrett. Garrett said, “I’m so grateful for the support from everyone who’s backed the team. We’re excited that fans and military-owned small businesses will be able to see the car on the track and feel proud, knowing they had a hand in us racing. When I started racing, my dad said he wanted me to find a way to use it to make a difference, so I could look back on it and know I helped someone. I wasn’t quite 15 at the time and didn’t really get it, but now I do. Working with the military community is the perfect fit, and it’s cool that it ties in with my brothers’ Army careers.”

Team owner Sam Hunt added, “It feels good to know we’re racing for something bigger than ourselves. We love racing, but the National Awareness Campaign makes it mean so much more.”

Lisa Kipps-Brown, the marketing strategist behind the team who took time to answer questions about the team.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Where did the idea of “Our American Dream Team” come from?

Kipps-Brown: Two ideas converged to create “Our American Dream Team:”

  • The belief that hard work, talent, and ingenuity could compete at the professional levels of NASCAR was fostered by the families of driver Colin Garrett and team owner Sam Hunt.
  • At the same time, the Garrett family had been running a National Awareness Campaign throughout the 2019 NASCAR season to promote the free services offered by Racing For Heroes, a nonprofit founded by Army Special Forces CW3 Mike Evock (ret.). Their holistic services include mental physical health treatments, job placement, and motorsports therapy. Since over 25% of active-duty military are NASCAR fans and about 18% of NASCAR fans are Veterans, it’s the perfect platform to reach the military community.

We realized that the American Dream that we believe in and are chasing is often hard for those in the military community to achieve. Since we wanted to expand our National Awareness Campaign for 2020, helping those who have given so much achieve their own American Dream was the perfect fit to complement what we were already doing with Racing For Heroes. We decided to take a leap of faith and commit to crowdfunding the team to replace as much corporate sponsorship money as possible, which would free us up to promote issues important to the military community and companies owned by Veterans and military spouses.

WATM: Tell us a little about the team owner?

Kipps-Brown: 26-year-old Sam Hunt dreamed of starting a NASCAR team after racing throughout his childhood. After he graduated from college, the late J.D. Gibbs, whom Sam knew through his family, gave Sam his first two cars to help him get started. Sam started his team in 2018, living in his van behind the shop and couch surfing with friends to be able to afford the business. He and driver Colin Garrett started racing together that year in the KN Pro Series, and realized they had something special working together.

WATM: Tell us about your driver?

Kipps-Brown: Unlike most NASCAR drivers, 19-year-old Colin Garrett didn’t grow up racing karts or in a racing family. Yet, in just his third season of racing, he was historic South Boston (VA) Speedway’s 2017 Limited Sportsman Division Champion and broke the track’s qualifying speed record twice. In 2018 he started racing with team owner Sam Hunt in the KN Pro Series and continued racing Super Late Model. What started out as a 3-race deal with Sam turned into a great fit, and they raced KN together the rest of the 2018 season and all of 2019. In the fall of 2019, they decided they wanted to make the leap to the Xfinity Series.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Do you have any connections to the military? Why did they partake in this endeavor?

Kipps-Brown: Both of Colin’s brothers are Active Duty Army, one currently deployed to Korea. One of Sam’s best friends is a Navy SEAL. I am a milspouse whose husband is retired Navy with 26 years of service, 3 of which were in the Vietnam War. Combating Veteran suicide and helping service members transition back to civilian life is an issue that’s personally important to them. Colin knows it could be his brothers who need help, and I have experienced how difficult the transition can be for Veterans and military families.

WATM: How hard was it to raise money?

Kipps-Brown: We knew it was a long shot, but we also had faith that we could do it. We believed in the loyalty of grassroots NASCAR fans and the power of large numbers of people who could give any amount. Nothing was too small. Our friends, family, and existing fans kicked it off for us, backing the team because they believed in us and our dream. We ended up raising enough to not only race in Daytona, but also pay for stem cell treatments for a Veteran through Racing For Heroes. Crowdfunding needs a crowd, though, and we’re really just now tapping into the power of the military community.

WATM: What were the biggest obstacles?

Kipps-Brown: Connecting with the crowd was by far our biggest obstacle. People are jaded, and for good reason. They’ve seen too many people use Veterans’ issues to further their own cause without giving anything back to the community. The most important connection so far has been when Stephanie Brown, founder of The Rosie Network, introduced us to Marine veteran Greg Boudah, founder of Jewelry Republic. Jewelry Republic, where Veterans buy jewelry, became a sponsor on the car for Daytona, and Greg has been instrumental in getting the grassroots movement going. He’s activated his network of vetrepreneurs like Chris (Smurf) McPhee (retired Green Beret – Green Beret Media) and Michael Whitlow (Marine veteran – Vetbuilder) to help us get the word out. Once people get to know us, they realize we’re part of the military family, that we’re not just asking for money, and we really do want to make a difference. When we get over that hurdle, everyone responds with excitement.

WATM: How many veteran businesses donated?

Kipps-Brown: We have about 50 Veteran Business Advocates so far. When a vet- or milspouse-owned business gives and provides their logo, we promote them on our website, tell their story on our Facebook page, and provide a Veteran Business Advocate badge for their website. It’s an opportunity for them to participate in a national NASCAR marketing campaign, something that would normally never be available to small businesses. There’s never been anything like this done before, and we have plans in the works for other ways of helping grow military-owned businesses. Stay tuned 🙂

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: How did you get involved with this? What other outside help did they get.

Kipps-Brown: It’s really been me, Colin’s dad, and the staff of my web marketing strategy company, Glerin Business Resources. I started working with Colin and his dad in November of 2018. A couple of months after that Racing For Heroes happened to contact me, wanting to hire me to develop a National Awareness Campaign for them.

When I visited them at Virginia International Raceway and saw all they do, I was literally in tears. I couldn’t believe the extent of their free services, and the fact that they were holistic was even better. I remembered how hard it was for my husband when he retired, losing that sense of mission and knowing he was part of something that made a difference. I just couldn’t bear the thought of taking money away from their programs. I called Colin’s dad, Ryan, as soon as I left, and he readily agreed to roll Racing For Heroes into the work I was doing with them.

Just after that, he and I began working with Steve Sims, author of Bluefishing: The Art of Making Things Happen, as our business coach. Steve’s encouragement, input, and challenging us to think differently were instrumental in the evolution of the team.

I think the fact that this whole campaign started with a call from Racing For Heroes is so cool; it’s really an organic effort that was constantly changing throughout the season. We’re proud that a movement that started in a small, rural town in Virginia has gone national and is becoming a disrupter in the racing industry.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

WATM: Tell us about the race the car will be in?

Kipps-Brown: The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 is the most prestigious NASCAR Xfinity Series of the year. The 300-mile race is held at Daytona International Speedway the day before the Daytona 500, and is broadcast live on TV and radio.

WATM: Are there future plans for any other races?

Kipps-Brown: We intend to race as many Xfinity races on the national stage this year as we can fund, and we plan to be prepared to run the full 2021 season. Colin will also be running NASCAR Super Late Model and Late Model at the grassroots level, like his home track South Boston Speedway. The smaller tracks actually give him a better opportunity to interact directly with fans, which is great for helping communicate the free services available.

The NASCAR Racing Experience 300 rolls out at 2:30 p.m. EST this Saturday, February 15th. Tune in and cheer on the Our America Dream Team!

More information on the team and its cause can be found here.

MIGHTY SPORTS

NHL ventures “Into the Wild Blue Yonder”

On Feb. 15, the NHL will host its annual Stadium Series Games at a really unique and, frankly, awesome location.


The Colorado Avalanche will host the LA Kings at Falcon Stadium on the campus of the United States Air Force Academy.

The Stadium Series has been played previously at several landmark stadiums in its six years of existence. In 2014, the series kicked off with a game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles and then two games in Yankee Stadium.

The 10 most legendary pieces of NFL merchandise

Falcon Stadium.

(goairforcefalcons.com)

Two years ago, the United States Naval Academy hosted the Washington Capitals and Toronto Maple Leafs at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Capitals won that game 5-2.

This is part of an initiative by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman to build a unique partnership with the military. There have also been talks that the New York Rangers are working on having a game at Mitchie Stadium on the campus of the United States Military Academy.

Colorado Avalanche General Manager and hockey legend Joe Sakic said, “We are grateful for the chance to honor our military and our local U.S. service academy with a special event.”

Another benefit of the game is to highlight the Air Force Academy hockey team. In homage to its own history, the team started playing outdoors as a club team. As it built its reputation over the years, the Falcons have made the NCAA Tournament seven times. Three times they have made it to the Elite 8. What is even more impressive is that Air Force can’t recruit like other schools. (no Canadians or Europeans).

The NHL is going all out with pregame fan spaces, which will have interactive activities for everyone. Fans will be able to meet NHL legends, create their own hockey card, take a look at the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile and other activities. The highlight of the pregame festivities will definitely be the Stanley Cup. The iconic trophy will be on display, and fans will have the chance to see the Cup up close and personal.

In preparation for the event, the Avalanche sent forward Gabriel Landeskog to be a ‘Cadet for a Day.”

Landeskog took the time to tour the Academy, try out a flight simulator, take in the school’s athletic facilities, and most importantly, spend time with the cadets.

Click here for more information about the game.

MIGHTY SPORTS

Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 2

Welcome to the Fantasy Football After Action Report: Week 2, where QB injuries dominated every storyline. This week: Big Ben, Brees, Sam Darnold, and then Trevor Siemian, all incurred massive season-changing injuries. What does that mean for your roster? Well, if you have any of those dudes… It means “not good.”


DMac’s INT was a great example of team defense by the #Patriots. Cover-1 man. Van Noy throws heavy hands to open the inside rush lane to put pressure on Fitzpatrick, Gilmore undercuts the route and makes a terrific deflection and McCourty is in perfect position to catch the tip.pic.twitter.com/Nd3s5R7SuV

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Blue chip medal

Dak Prescott, QB, Cowboys- Welp, that annoying dude from work is right for the first time in a decade. The Cowboys actually are back this year. That’s in major thanks to Dak’s incredible display. Dak threatens defenses with his legs and arm, and has massively improved as a downfield passer this year. The Cowboys are 2-0 and Dak is in clear QB1 territory.

Dalvin Cook, RB, Vikings- Regardless of how successful the Vikings are on Sundays, one thing is clear—their offense plays through Dalvin Cook. And Cook gets results. He slashes defenses with long runs, guts them with pass-catching out of the backfield, and he’s doing it all with an average line and Kirk Cousins. A true RB1.

Patriots Defense- The Pats defense came to play the first two weeks of the season. Over the last two decades, the Patriots have offensively dominated the NFL, but this is the first year where it seems like the scariest part of their team is the defense. They scored 37 fantasy points against Miami. They’ve only allowed 3 points through 8 quarters of football. They are the real deal. Ugh.

Travis Kelce, TE, Chiefs- Perhaps the safest player in fantasy football, Kelce is a walking stat machine. He’s a match-up nightmare on one of the highest-powered offenses in the NFL. He scores week in and week out. And for now, he’s not competing with Tyreek Hill for targets.

Cam Newton this entire gamepic.twitter.com/6LTQGuv00M

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Loss of rank

Cam Newton, QB, Panthers- Cam looked dejected against a floppy Bucs defense Thursday. He’s not using his legs to make plays. He overthrew players constantly. Now he’s got a banged-up foot and is questionable to play Sunday. If you have Cam, try shipping him, it’s looking like former MVP may end up on the waiver wire come the bye week.

Jordan Howard, RB, Eagles- Jordan Howard has yet to produce in an Eagles offense that is stuck in purgatory. Miles Sanders is clearly the guy in the backfield of this offense. Although Howard has been at the top of the rushing charts the last five years, this seems to be a massive step back from his time in Chicago.

Dede Westbrook, WR, Jaguars- The appeal to Westbrook was his chemistry with Nick Foles. With Foles out, his role has diminished quickly. Unless he can get on the same page with the Uncle-Rico-looking-heart-throb rookie Gardner Minshew, his upside may suffer drastically.

Duke Johnson, RB, Texans- When Lamar Miller went down for the year with a torn ACL, it looked like an opportunity for massive production from the former Browns RB. Then they signed Carlos Hyde. And Hyde has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts, while Duke Johnson struggles to get any momentum going. This is an interesting offense, especially when Watson is clicking, so all is not lost with Johnson yet—but his fantasy pulse is low and needs to be monitored.


44-yard touchdown to Demarcus Robinson #KCvsOAK | : KCTV5pic.twitter.com/Sk9WZdEph8

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Promotion watch

Demarcus Robinson, WR, Chiefs- Robinson absolutely exploded week two against the Raiders. He posted a ridiculous six catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He’s a threat to post these kinds of boom-or-bust numbers as long as Tyreek Hill is out.

Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs-Robinson ain’t alone. Hardman also had a stellar game and seemed to share the massively efficient passing attention of Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs score points, and these guys benefit from that. Try to get either guy on the waiver wire if you can.

Devin Singletary, RB, Bills- Singletary posted a solid ~15 point fantasy week, however, the most promising takeaway from this situation is how good the Bills look. They’re 2-0. Josh Allen is slinging the rock. The defense looks stout. The more games that the Bills are ahead, the more times they’re going to run out the clock by giving Singletary the ball. Trade for him if you can.

Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Saints- Brees is out for 6-8 weeks. So it looks like the Saints are going to turn to the young, eager Teddy Bridgewater for their quarterbacking duties. Bridgewater is stepping into one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL today. He’s got Kamara, Latavius Murray, Michael Thomas, Jared Cook, and many others. He could easily put up QB1 numbers if this waiver wire gamble pays off.

Jake Matthews squashed Avonte Maddox.pic.twitter.com/numxJIrNW1

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Badass hit of the week

Jake Matthews

Once again, the Badass Hit of the Week goes to an offensive lineman. What can we say—we got a soft spot for the unsung big guys. It’s not without merit; this massive hit opened a lane for Julio Jones to stride 60 yards for the game-winning touchdown.

MIGHTY SPORTS

49ers player George Kittle is honoring Gold Star families with custom cleats

Through the My Cause My Cleats campaign, every NFL player can show what they stand for. The campaign gives them the option to choose a special cause or organization to represent on a pair of custom-designed cleats. So far, dozens of players have decked out their shoes for a good cause. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp chose to support Forever Found, an organization battling child trafficking. Two Rams players decorated their shoes with the logo of the Special Olympics. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson chose to honor George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Herbert Hightower and Charleena Lyles with his cleats. 

Now, 49ers TE has elected to honor the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. 

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, better known as TAPS, is a non-profit dedicated to those who lost a love one in military service to America. The program was founded in 1994 by Bonnie Carroll, in memory of her late husband who died in a plane crash with seven others. For nearly 25 years, TAPS has worked to offer ongoing support to military survivors. 

Services include crisis response and assistance, peer-based emotional counseling, casualty casework assistance, and other grief and trauma resources. TAPS also hosts a national annual grief seminar in D.C. with three full days of grief management workshops. 

George Kittle has always been proud of his country. Now he’s proud to support those who serve.

The new cleats, designed by Marcus Rivero, AKA Soles by Sir, include numerous shoutouts to America’s armed forces. They include the TAPS logo, the logos for all five military branches, and Kittle’s signature number 85. They also feature a shoutout to significant military figures from his own life. His Uncle, Colonel Pat Coen, served several deployments in the Army National Guard, and his close friend, Rico Hogan, still serves in the Navy. He also wanted the design to honor the LaMar family. Army Sgt. Martin “Mick” LaMar was killed in action in 2011, so George, in partnership with USAA’s #SaluteToService campaign, gave the family tickets to Super Bowl LIV to pay his respects.

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Photo by San Francisco 49ers

The video below by USAA captures the story behind the shoes and offers a behind-the-scenes look at the custom cleat design process.

To learn more about TAPS, donate a holiday wreath, or apply to volunteer, visit https://www.taps.org/.

MIGHTY TRENDING

USAA invites Army-Navy game fans to celebrate virtually at Army-Navy House

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SAN ANTONIO – USAA, the presenting-sponsor of the 121st Army-Navy Game on Dec. 12, is launching the “Army-Navy House” sweepstakes ahead of this year’s game to help fans continue to celebrate the game’s rivalry and traditions despite COVID-19 restrictions.

One of college football’s most revered and storied rivalries will continue as the Army Black Knights take on the Navy Midshipmen at Michie Stadium on the campus at West Point, NY. However, only the Brigade of Midshipmen and Corps of Cadets, the students at each academy, will be allowed in the stands. No outside fans will be able to attend in person.

USAA has planned the Army-Navy House sweepstakes to allow fans to carry on the rivalry from the comfort of their home. Fans can visit www.ArmyNavyHouse.com and upload a photo that shows off their fandom to be entered into the sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the 2021 Army-Navy Game in New York City. One winner from each fandom will be chosen. Fans can also share their uploaded photos to social media using the hashtag #ArmyNavyHouse.

“There is no other rivalry that matches the passion, tradition and patriotism of the Army-Navy Game,” said USAA Chief Brand Officer Tony Wells, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. “Brothers and sisters in arms all year, this is the one afternoon when they are rivals. While we share fans’ disappointment that we cannot celebrate these future leaders in person, we can still share our support through Army-Navy House and come together virtually as we have learned to do during this pandemic.”

In addition to the two grand prize winners, 1,000 fans from each Academy who upload a photo will be eligible to win a commemorative ticket from this year’s game. Many Army-Navy fans have ticket stubs from games they have attended for the past 10, 20 or 30 years in a row. The commemorative ticket is a chance for fans to keep their streak alive even though they can’t be there in person.

This year’s playing of “America’s Game” marks the first time the Army-Navy Game will be played at a home site since World War II when Annapolis hosted the 1942 game and West Point the 1943 game.

The 121st playing of the Army-Navy Game presented by USAA will air on CBS at 3:00 pm ET on Saturday, Dec. 12. The annual Army-Navy Game is normally the last regular season matchup in college football, and Navy leads the series 61-52-7, having snapped a three-game Army winning streak last year .

About USAA

Founded in 1922 by a group of military officers, USAA is among the leading providers of insurance, banking and investment and retirement solutions to 13 million members of the U.S. military, veterans who have honorably served and their families. Headquartered in San Antonio, Tex., USAA has offices in seven U.S. cities and three overseas locations and employs more than 35,000 people worldwide. Each year, the company contributes to national and local nonprofits in support of military families and communities where employees live and work. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit usaa.com

USAA 2020 Army Navy Game Sweepstakes

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. Open to legal residents of the 50 U.S./D.C., 18+. Starts at 12:00:01 a.m. CT on 12/2/20 and ends at 11:59:59 p.m. CT on 12/17/20.  See Official rules at www.ArmyNavyHouse.com for details on how to enter, additional eligibility restrictions, prize descriptions/restrictions/ARVs and complete details. Void where prohibited. Sponsor: USAA, 9800 Fredericksburg Road, San Antonio, TX 78288-0020. The trademarks, logos and names of other companies, products and services are the property of their respective owners. Membership eligibility and product restrictions apply and are subject to change. USAA means United Services Automobile Association and its affiliates. © 2020 USAA. 269007-0320

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