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February 07, 2014

NFL Pro Bowl stars share time with wounded warriors, community

By Jack Wiers, IMCOM

SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii (Feb. 3, 2014) -- The NFL stars came to Schofield Baracks, Jan. 22, to spend some quality time with Soldiers.

NFL Pro Bowl players and the WTB
Photo Credit: Jack Wiers, IMCOM
NFL Pro Bowl players DeSean Jackson (#10) and LeSean McCoy (#25) from the Philadephia Eagles and Alex Smith (#11) of the Kansas City Chiefs, join members of the Warrior Transition Battalion, at the Tropics Recreation Center at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, Jan. 22, 2014, as part of Pro Bowl week official NFL activities. This Wounded Warrior mural project was part of the "NFL Play 60 Community Blitz," with Pro Bowl players making appearances at military installations around Oahu, Hawaii.

They did not disappoint.

"I'm like a little kid," said Sgt. Asolupe Bird, with Warrior Transition Battalion, Tripler Army Medical Command, who came to the "NFL Play 60 Community Blitz" event at the Tropics Recreation Center, armed with San Francisco 49ers gear.

Bird said he came away with autographs from nearly every Pro Bowl player at the event, more than two dozen signatures on his official 49ers NFL football and Niners cap.

"These guys give us the opportunity to hang out," Bird said. "They show us love. I'm loving it."

Schofield Wounded Warrior Mural Project

Service projects are at the core of the community blitz concept. Pro Bowl players fanned out around the island, with coordinated stops at Schofield, Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam and with the Special Olympics.

Players who arrived at the Tropics Recreation Center were met with paintbrushes and boxes. Superstars, including Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant, joined Soldiers at one of three work areas where everyone joined in to paint and complete a "Play 60" mural on behalf of the WTB.

Were there any artists among the NFL stars?

"That would be me," said DeSean Jackson, Eagles superstar wide out, modestly. "[I] studied it (art) in college; it was my major."

The purpose of the exercise, however, was not great art, but an opportunity for casual interaction and quality time with Soldiers.

"We appreciate them," said Bryant, who was under a constant barrage of photograph and autograph requests, taking and enjoying every one from the look on his face.

"We are grateful for what they have done," he said. "The feeling (and admiration) is mutual."

"It's kind of surreal," said Capt. Candace Clark, S-1 (administration), WTB, "but they (Pro Bowl players) are kind and down to earth."

Leaving Memories

The 75-minute gathering also included players helping box healthy foods -- all gathered from local farms and placed in reusable shopping bags for distribution -- another initiative of the NFL Play 60 initiative.

The three-panel mural will remain at the Tropics Recreation Center, but the memories will belong to the participants.

Clark may have enjoyed the gathering as much as any unit member, as she gathered "selfies" of herself with Eagles quarterback Nick Foles and Chiefs special teams star Dexter McCluster.

"This is one great morale booster to have this type of one-on-one time," Clark said. "[It was] definitely a good day."

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