January 26, 2009

Military Color Guard Gets to Stay!

Big thanks to every one who forwarded their reply from Mallory Steinberg of the NFL. Here is what Ms. Steinberg had to say to our inquiry - her email to me in it's entirety.

Thank you for your email.

Our longstanding support of the military is a proud NFL tradition, including numerous NFL players and coaches traveling overseas with the USO to visit troops. Last summer, Commissioner Goodell, Drew Brees, and Osi Umenyiora went on a USO trip to Iraq and Afghanistan with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike

Since we had not heard about this directly from the military, we contacted our military liaison for the color guard immediately to discuss the issue. After speaking with our military liaison for the color guard, we will host the members of the color guard (12 people) in the stadium.

The background is this:
The members of the color guard have always been our guests at a Super Bowl party in a compound on the stadium grounds where they watch the game on big-screen TVs and enjoy food and beverage.

That is how we have done it every year. The military provides an intra-service color guard as part of our pre-game tribute to the military that also includes the military fly-over of the stadium. Then we arrange a place for the color guard to watch the game along with other pre-game and halftime show participants (more than 2,000 people).

We appreciate your commitment to the NFL.


Mallory Steinberg
NFL Communications and Public Affairs

So it appears that the NFL has changed their policy and has agreed to make an exception and will allow the color guard to stay for the big game. However, allow me to point out that this is not a standing NFL policy for all games, when the Miami Dolphins and New York Giants played in their historic game in the UK at the start of this season the honor guard took front row end-zone seats for the game after presenting the colors. The key graph from the USAFE press release:
An ecstatic Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Marlon E. Vega summed it up as they left the field after the performance: "We were awesome! - No ifs, ands, or buts." Seats in the front row in the end zone for the game, and photos with the Miami Dolphins cheerleaders and sports broadcast personalities like John Salley of the "Best Darn Sports Show" capped an impressive day for the JAC team.
As Lex noted when I broke this story, it appears to be just another business decision, the game played between the Giants and Dolphins at London’s Wembley Stadium, despite the historic significance wasn’t the money generator that the Super Bowl is. Despite his obvious love for the NFL Florio hit the nail on the head when he stated that the real reason they can’t stay in the stadium is because of the lost profit margin the NFL would have to endure. I know its tough to make ends meat when you are charging $3 Million US for a 30 second commercial spot, and have absolute control on how many of those 30 second spots you want to cram into your 6 hour production.

Give me a break. I know the real estate in a stadium is at a premium, and when all you are seeing are dollar signs instead of people, I guess it is just “good” business to try and suck up as much money as one can at your venue. What really pisses me off are the e-mailers who are slamming us because they think we are asking for something special simply because we are in uniform. We are not, let me reiterate this, we are not asking for any special treatment, we are however, asking to be treated like the heroes you claim we are. You support the military? Great, but don’t invite us to dinner and then make us sit at the children’s table in the other room while all the “adults” go off to the dinning room for wine with their meal. Are we sounding whiny? You’re damn right we are, it’s our right to complain when we come up against a policy we don’t like, isn’t that what all the protesters say? I thought dissent was patriotic?

As I stated earlier, this policy wasn’t all about the Super Bowl it went deeper. It encompasses the prevailing belief in this country being held by men and women in uniform that they are only appreciated when they go off to war, and you get to stay home. “Thank God for men like them.” I hear when we talk of the troops in the box, but not once will you stand up for us when the time comes. Kipling said it best:
I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide,
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
Let me ask again: Is Bruce Springsteen being charged for his $1000+ seat? Of course not he is a celebrity, and a supporter of the new Administration to boot, we can’t have him in with the hired help watching the game on a TV waiting for his stage call. He is important, not like those 12 men and women in uniform who are guarding and presenting not only our country’s flag but our country!

To all those haters out there because we were able to get the NFL to change their policy this week and 12 drunken civilians can’t get into the event, “BITE ME!” because I’m not going away. I’m going to keep fighting for my brother’s and sister’s in arms as long as I can, because you surely aren’t and for that you should be ashamed of yourself. They deserve better than being treated like Tommy.

[Ed Note: Some minor gramatical corrections have been made.]

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