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NFL and USO mark 40th anniversary

(March 22, 2006) -- The National Football League and the USO (United Service Organizations) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of their partnership this spring with a tour that will soon head to the Balkans and the Persian Gulf Region to provide a morale boost to troops stationed far from home.

Defensive ends Bryce Fisher of the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks and Patrick Kerney of the Atlanta Falcons, and tackle Max Starks of the Super Bowl XL champion Pittsburgh Steelers will meet and greet service members at various locations in the region. Armed Forces Entertainment (AFE) is providing logistical support for the trip.

In 1966, the NFL became the first sports organization to send players to Vietnam and other parts of the Far East on "goodwill tours" to visit U.S. troops. The first group of players to embark on a USO tour overseas included four future Hall of Famers: Willie Davis, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and Johnny Unitas.

In 2004, the NFL donated $250,000 to the USO for the construction of the Pat Tillman USO Center in Afghanistan, located at Bagram Air Base near Kabul. Larry Izzo of the New England Patriots and Warrick Dunn of the Falcons attended the opening of the center last April in Afghanistan. A former Arizona Cardinals safety, Tillman was killed during Army Ranger combat operations in Afghanistan in 2004.

The NFL has a long history of support for the military dating back to the league's inception in the 1920s. During World War II, NFL games were morale boosters and a diversion for a war-weary nation. Nearly 1,000 NFL personnel, from players to coaches to team owners, served in the military during World War II. Over the next four decades, dozens of football stars have made trips for the USO, including Don Meredith, Larry Csonka, Dick Butkus, Gene Upshaw, Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long and Mike Singletary.

In addition, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have teamed with the USO for an unprecedented 59 times since 1979 to boost the morale of the men and women of our U.S. military at hundreds of bases and outposts around the world.

For 65 years, the USO has been providing morale, welfare and recreational services to U.S. military personnel and their families. The USO is a nonprofit, charitable organization, relying on the generosity of the American people to support its programs and services. For more information on the USO, visit www.uso.org.

The lineup of NFL players on USO tours:

YEAR PLAYER TEAM REGION
1966 Johnny Unitas Baltimore Colts Vietnam
Willie Davis Green Bay Packers
Sam Huff New York Giants
Frank Gifford New York Giants
1967 Don Meredith Dallas Cowboys
Dick Bass Los Angeles Rams
Larry Wilson St. Louis Cardinals
1968 Bart Starr Green Bay Packers
Wayne Walker Detroit Lions
Ernie Green Cleveland Browns
Lance Alworth San Diego Chargers
Andy Russell Pittsburgh Steelers
Bill Brown Minnesota Vikings
Bobby Bell Kansas City Chiefs
John David Crow San Francisco 49ers
Jack Kemp Buffalo Bills
1969 Billy Ray Smith Baltimore Colts
Irv Cross Los Angeles Rams
Dick Schafrath Cleveland Browns
Al Atkinson New York Jets
Tommy Nobis Atlanta Falcons
Dick Westmoreland Miami Dolphins
Dan Reeves Dallas Cowboys
Joe Namath New York Jets Pacific Hospitals
Jim Otto Oakland Raiders (Japan, Guam, Philip)
Steve Wright New York Giants
Marv Fleming Green Bay Packers
1970 Tucker Frederickson New York Giants Vietnam (Unit No. 1)
Jack Snow Los Angeles Rams 17-day visit
Floyd Little Denver Broncos
Chuck Walker St. Louis Cardinals
Paul Maguire Buffalo Bills
Jim Nance Boston Patriots
Len Rohde San Francisco 49ers
Dan Conners Oakland Raiders
Gary Garrison San Diego Chargers
Norman Snead Philadelphia Eagles
Chris Hanburger Washington Redskins
Jim Marshall Minnesota Vikings
Dick Butkus Chicago Bears
Dave Whitsell New Orleans Saints
George Webster Houston Oilers
1971 John Brown Pittsburgh Steelers Vietnam (Unit No. 1)
George Kunz Atlanta Falcons 17-day visit
Fred Hoaglin Cleveland Browns
Jerry Smith Washington Redskins
Tom Woodeshick Philadelphia Eagles
George Byrd Buffalo Bills
Jon Morris Boston Patriots Vietnam (Unit No. 2)
Clint Jones Minnesota Vikings 17-day visit
Greg Landry Detroit Lions
Joe Scibelli Los Angeles Rams
Larry Csonka Miami Dolphins
Bob Lilly Dallas Cowboys Pacific Hospitals
Ernie Wright Cincinnati Bengals (Japan, Guam, Philip)
Tom Matte Baltimore Colts (Unit No. 3)
Tom Dempsey New Orleans Saints 17-day visit
Lem Barney Detroit Lions Departed Feb. 4
Mike Curtis Baltimore Colts
1972 Manny Fernandez Miami Dolphins Vietnam (Unit No. 1)
Charlie Kruger San Francisco 49ers 17-day visit
Jack Gregory Cleveland Browns
Mike Garrett San Diego Chargers
Marlin McKeever Los Angeles Rams
Grady Alderman Minnesota Vikings
John Elliott New York Jets
John Fuqua Pittsburgh Steelers
Marlin Briscoe Buffalo Bills
Roger Wehrli St. Louis Cardinals
Otis Taylor Kansas City Chiefs
Danny Abramowicz New Orleans Saints
Bill Curry Baltimore Colts
Donny Anderson Green Bay Packers
Gene Upshaw Oakland Raiders
Ken Houston Houston Oilers
1973 Marty Domres Baltimore Colts Korea (Unit No. 1)
Bill Kilmer Washington Redskins 17-day visit
Karl Kassulke Minnesota Vikings Departed Feb. 7
Jim Marsalis Kansas City Chiefs
Ken Iman Los Angeles Rams
Archie Manning New Orleans Saints Thailand (Unit No. 2)
George Atkinson Oakland Raiders 17-day visit
Cliff Harris Dallas Cowboys
Joe Morrison New York Giants
Mike McCoy Green Bay Packers
John Zook Atlanta Falcons
1974 Jim Mandich Miami Dolphins
John Gilliam Minnesota Vikings
Art Thoms Oakland Raiders
Franco Harris Pittsburgh Steelers
Diron Talbert Washington Redskins
Jack Youngblood Los Angeles Rams
Bill Munson Detroit Lions
1975 Rocky Bleier Pittsburgh Steelers Pacific Hospitals
Ray Mansfield Pittsburgh Steelers (Japan, Guam, Korea,
Carl Eller Minnesota Vikings Philippines)
Tom Mack Los Angeles Rams
Ahmad Rashad Buffalo Bills
1976 Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Steelers
Lynn Swann Pittsburgh Steelers
James Harris Los Angeles Rams
D.D. Lewis Dallas Cowboys
1977 George Buehler Oakland Raiders
Ahmad Rashad Minnesota Vikings
Jack Lambert Pittsburgh Stealers
Carl Eller Minnesota Vikings
Steve Grogan New England Patriots
1978 Willie Brown Oakland Raiders
Lawrence McCutcheon Los Angeles Rams
Russ Francis New England Patriots
Mike Montler Denver Broncos
1979 Joe Klecko New York Jets
Matt Blair Minnesota Vikings
Hank Bauer San Diego Chargers
Jon Kolb Pittsburgh Steelers
1980 Hank Bauer San Diego Chargers
Matt Blair Minnesota Vikings
Bod Brudzinski Los Angeles Rams
Efren Herrera Seattle Seahawks
1981 Dave Dalby Oakland Raiders
Mike Davis Oakland Raiders
Efren Herrera Seattle Seahawks
Doug Wilkerson San Diego Chargers
1984 Gregg Bingham Houston Oilers
Mike Davis Los Angeles Raiders
Russ Francis San Francisco 49ers
Mark May Washington Redskins
Ray Wersching San Francisco 49ers
2000 David Franklin New Orleans Saints DMZ, Korea
Dwight Hicks San Francisco 49ers DMZ, Korea
Brett Bach New Orleans Saints Kadena AFB, Okinawa
Keith Poole New Orleans Saints Kadena AFB, Okinawa
H.R. Silvagni Minnesota Vikings Kadena AFB, Okinawa
Bubba Winkler Atlanta Falcons Kadena AFB, Okinawa
Carlos Bradley San Diego Chargers/Philadelphia Eagles Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia
David Little Pittsburgh Steelers Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia
Sam Hunt New England Patriots Prince Sultan AB, Saudi Arabia
Carlton Bailey Buffalo Bills/ NY Giants/ Carolina Panthers South Camp, Egypt
Kent Hill Los Angeles Rams Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Lee Rouson New York Jets Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Mike Quick Philadelphia Eagles Pristina, Kosovo
Andy Headen New York Giants Pristina, Kosovo
Lorenzo Hampton Miami Dolphins Monteith, Kosovo
Henry Lawrence Los Angeles Raiders Monteith, Kosovo
Russell Carter New York Jets Camp McGovern, Bosnia
Byron Hunt New York Giants Camp McGovern, Bosnia
Roland James New England Patriots Camp Dobol, Bosnia
Ronnie Lapette New England Patriots Camp Dobol, Bosnia
Don MacNeal Miami Dolphins Camp Comanche, Bosnia
Curtis McGriff New York Giants Camp Comanche, Bosnia
Stephen Baker New York Giants Task Force Eagle, Bosnia
Scott Connover Detroit Lions Task Force Eagle, Bosnia
Pete Shaw San Diego Chargers/ New York Giants Sarajevo, Bosnia
Willie Buchanon Green Bay Packers/ San Diego Chargers Sarajevo, Bosnia
Mark Duper Miami Dolphins Taszar, Hungary
Elmer Bailey Miami Dolphins/ Baltimore Colts Taszar, Hungary
2001 H.R. Silvagni Minnesota Vikings Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Bubba Winkler Atlanta Falcons Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo
Carlos Bradley San Diego Chargers/Philadelphia Eagles Camp Monteith, Kosovo
David Little Pittsburgh Steelers Camp Monteith, Kosovo
PJ Foster Houston Oilers Camo Doble, Bosnia
Terry White Philadelphia Eagles Camo Doble, Bosnia
Kent Hill Los Angeles Rams Korea
Lee Rouson New York Jets Korea
Russell Carter New York Jets Incirlik Air Base, Turkey
Roland James New England Patriots Korea
Ronnie Lippett New England Patriots Korea
Curtis McGriff New York Giants Bahrain
Scott Conover Detroit Lions Bahrain
Ed Hargrove Minnesota Vikings Eagle Base, Tulza, Bosnia
2003 Jerome Bettis Pittsburgh Steelers Germany
Eddie George Tennessee Titans Germany
Paul Tagliabue NFL Germany
2003 Duce Staley Philadelphia Eagles Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar
Jason Taylor Miami Dolphins Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar
2003 Jason Taylor Miami Dolphins
Zach Thomas Miami Dolphins Germany
Shelton Quarles Tampa Bay Buccaneers Japan
Marvin Jones New York Jets Japan
2004 Keith Brooking Atlanta Falcons Germany
Warrick Dunn Atlanta Falcons Germany
Todd Heap Baltimore Ravens Germany
Paul Tagliabue NFL Germany
2004 Marco Rivera Green Bay Packers Kuwait, Qatar
Brian Baldinger Dallas Cowboys, Fox Kuwait, Qatar
2004 Merton Hanks NFL Germany
Mike Haynes NFL Germany
Paul Tagliabue NFL Germnay
2005 Warrick Dunn Atlanta Falcons Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait
Larry Izzo New England Patriots Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait
2006 Bryce Fisher Seattle Seahawks Balkans, Persian Gulf
Patrick Kerney Atlanta Falcons Balkans, Persian Gulf
Max Starks Pittsburgh Steelers Balkans, Persian Gulf

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