Did you miss some tidbit of military-themed Super Bowl hype? Was there an angle that went under your radar while you attempted to maintain pre-game productivity? Here’s a handy cheat sheet to prep you for the big game:
1. Military man: New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona will be the only service academy representative (and only reservist) to participate in Sunday’s game. Last year, the Annapolis grad told Military Times about his “surreal” 2017 Super Bowl experience: With the Patriots not in a position to punt or kick field goals (or even extra points) late in the contest, Cardona ended up with a sideline view of the greatest Super Bowl comeback ever. Read more about him here.
2. Pre-game pomp: This year’s military flyover will go old school (P-51 Mustang) while featuring a modern favorite (A-10 Warthog). Fifteen Medal of Honor recipients will take part in the coin toss, with the flip performed by Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams.
3. On deployment: Troops worldwide will be able to see the game via American Forces Network. They even received well-wishes via the AFN Facebook page from a quarterback and fitness-advice-giver of note:
The Defense Logistics Agency has details on the overseas menu, including cookout plans at Al Dhafra Air Base, United Arab Emirates, that may make some troops hungry enough to seek a transfer.
4. Ads (not the funny ones). AMVETS said the NFL’s rejection of its planned “Please Stand” ad for the Super Bowl program amounted to censorship; the NFL said it didn’t want political statements in the program. AMVETS has since created a #PleaseStand public service announcement.
A four-time Super Bowl champion and Vietnam vet who lost part of his right foot after suffering a combat injury is the latest — and perhaps most qualified — figure to chime in.
5. More anthem. Super Bowl prop bets aren’t the most scientific measure, but the odds of a player taking a knee during the national anthem have gone down since last year. It’s about 3-to-1 against any such gestures, longer than 3-to-2 from last season. You can also bet on the hair color that’ll be sported by Pink as she sings the anthem.
6. Good guys, Part I. Eagles defensive end Chris Long is donating his entire 2017 salary to education programs. Not impressed? He’s also slated to climb Mount Kilimanjaro this year, for the third time, to support his Waterboys charity, which helps bring wells to needy African communities. Also climbing: Nate Boyer, a former Green Beret of note.
7. Good guys, Part II: Air Force Reserve Capt. Ben Garland’s Atlanta Falcons didn’t make a return Super Bowl appearance, but Garland’s friend and fellow Air Force family member, 3-year-old Cooper Dean, will be on hand. Read their story.
8. Quick trivia: The Vince Lombardi Trophy, which the winners will hold after Sunday’s contest, is named for a Packers legend whose coaching career included a stint at West Point under legendary U.S. Military Academy coach Col. Earl “Red” Blaik.
Long-suffering Eagles fans may remember Chuck Bednarik as a two-way star who helped Philly to its last NFL title in 1960; others may know him as the man who practically shattered New York Giants legend Frank Gifford earlier that season. The Hall of Famer, who died in 2015 at age 89, served as a B-24 gunner during World War II.
9. Breaking nat-sec news. Have you ever wondered which team you should cheer for, strictly from the perspective of national security and American force projection? First, seek counseling. Second, see below:
10. Puppy power. Do you like your on-field action a bit more fuzzy? Veterans will have a rooting interest in this year’s Puppy Bowl.