NFL players to visit U.S. bases in Japan during leadup to American Bowl
TOKYO — Camp Zama soldiers and USS Blue Ridge sailors at Yokosuka Naval Base will get a taste of down-home American football when the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Indianapolis Colts dispatch players to visit the troops at each location on Friday.
The Colts and Falcons arrived Wednesday in Tokyo for the American Bowl, the first game of the NFL’s five-week preseason, scheduled for Saturday at Tokyo Dome.
Tokyo has been the most frequent overseas destination for NFL teams since the American Bowl series began in 1986, when the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys played at Wembley Stadium in England. San Francisco and the Los Angeles Rams were the first two teams to visit Tokyo, in 1989.
Camp Zama’s Yano Fitness Center will welcome a handful of Falcons players for a handshake and autograph session at 3 p.m. Friday to last about 90 minutes, said Zama spokeswoman Maj. Martha Brooks.
USS Blue Ridge is scheduled to host a handful of Colts players either Thursday or Friday at a time to be determined, said Yokosuka Naval Base spokesman Mike Chase. Officials at 7th Fleet could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
Activities also are planned for the Tokyo Dome:
¶ Friday, some 90 single sailors from Yokosuka will be there, accompanied by members of “From The Bench,” a weekly call-in sports talk show simulcast on the base’s community access TV channel, the World Wide Web and AFN Eagle 810-AM radio.
¶ A group reenlistment ceremony is scheduled after the Falcons complete practice Friday, about 11 a.m.
¶ U.S. Forces Japan servicemembers will serve as color guard for American Bowl pregame ceremonies and will provide support staff for the game. The Falcons and Colts, with headliner quarterbacks Michael Vick and Peyton Manning, will kick off at 6 p.m. The game will be telecast live on AFN-Sports via ESPN.