NFL players get a taste of Army life
WIESBADEN, Germany — Baltimore Ravens tight end Todd Heap, Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn and Falcons linebacker Keith Brooking don’t know what “hooah” means, but they would like to.
During a two-day Germany USO tour, the three National Football League players visited 1st Armored Division troops who are heading back to Iraq in the next several weeks.
During a question-and-answer session in Flyer’s Theater at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield, troops asked about the life of a professional athlete, while the football players got to understand a soldier’s life.
“What do you do to prepare for a deployment?” asked Dunn.
A soldier from the crowd of more than 200 troops in the theater calls out “training.” When pressed to give an example, simultaneously a group of four soldiers hollered back, “Army training.”
The three athletes were introduced to military living with an initial vehicle-and-personnel search upon entering post. The 1st AD guards looked through the vehicle and then searched the people inside the vehicle, having the athletes place their hands on top of their heads and kneel on the ground.
During the session, Heap was asked if he knew former Arizona Cardinals player Pat Tillman, who was recently killed during a firefight in Afghanistan, since the two played in Arizona.
Though they did not know each other too well, Heap shared some memories of Tillman.
“He didn’t talk about football or normal things people talk about,” Heap said. “He would be in a bowling alley and be talking about history and philosophy.”
Heap said Tillman was the type of guy who always did what he felt he should do.
The athletes learned hands-on secrets to getting the most out of Meals, Ready to Eat, as troops prepared “Ranger pudding,” a mixture of cocoa powder and other MRE ingredients and showed them how to make an MRE bomb out of a plastic bottle and the MRE heating element.
“Not bad,” said Heap as he tried the chicken and salsa main meal from his MRE. “Tastes like Campbell’s Chunky Soup.”
Soldiers shared their personal experiences from downrange and then received signed photographs of the football players.
Dunn, still trying to grasp military training, asked, “Train like we fight, is that like practice how we play?”
The crowd responds with a “hooah,” teaching the athletes just one meaning for the Army guttural groan.