Thanksgiving football is alive and well today, in the NFL with three games, crowned by Jets-New England at MetLife Stadium tonight, as well as at numerous colleges and high schools around the country.
And let’s not forget Kabul, Afghanistan.
That was the venue half a world away for today’s Kabul Ultimate Football Tournament, a 7-on-7 extravaganza featuring five teams and involving as many as 70 U.S. soldiers and members of Coalition forces and played under the rules of ultimate football.
And the New York Jets were a big presence at the big day, which even included a tailgate section set up for breakfast.
U.S. Army Col. John Sheard is a rabid fan and great friend of the Green & White and owner Woody Johnson. He’s a New Jersey resident whose duties include supervision of all aircraft assigned to the New Jersey National Guard as well as recruitment programs and promotion. He’s in Afghanistan for six months reviewing all helicopter operations there.
Col. Sheard hatched plans for the tournament back in September, always envisioning it to be held this morning in Afghanistan, well ahead of tonight’s Jets-Patriots game. His main objective for the event was to increase morale of the troops in Kabul, supporting both American soldiers and members of the 49 Coalition forces in the country.
He has worked with the Jets marketing department in the past, and when the organization learned of his tournament, the team moved quickly, donating jerseys and NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee T-shirts for the 2014 Super Bowl to be played at MetLife Stadium.
The green jerseys with white trim all carried the “player name” of KABUL – USA over uniform No. 12. The number let the service members all know that their sacrifices as the U.S. “12th man” in this area of the world haven’t been forgotten.
The media machine kicked into high gear as well. You may have already heard about the tournament on CBS’ NFL Today this afternoon. NBC is expected to cover the event during the Jets-Pats game, the network’s first Thanksgiving night broadcast ever. Associated Press, Armed Forces Network and other outlets have provided information. We’re told video of the event has gone viral on the Internet as well. And the Jets will show a clip on the MetLife videoboards during tonight’s game.
Col. Sheard tells us US V Corps won the tournament. His team didn’t fare so well, but as he told us in an email, “This event for me was not about winning. It was about the USA tradition of Thanksgiving and US football. … I can tell you that all players and fans were ecstatic to be part of this event.”
Woody Johnson and the Jets are pleased and honored to have been able to support this event for our troops in Afghanistan.
Tags: Afghanistan, Col. John Sheard, Kabul Ultimate Football Tournament, Woody Johnson
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