On September 19, 50 local military members were invited to Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they were able to participate in USAA’s Salute to Service NFL Boot Camp. The military members competed in a number of drills that NFL players have to go through, including the 40-yard dash, broad jump, three-cone shuttle, receiving gauntlet and the quarterback arm challenge.
Being that it was at their stadium, the Las Vegas Raiders participated in the event. Current players Aidan O’Connell, Matthew Butler and John Shenker were all involved in the drills, as were Raiders alumni Bené Benwikere and Korey Toomer.
O’Connell oversaw the quarterback arm challenge and offered pointers while Butler helped with the three-cone drill and Shenker threw passes on the receiving gauntlet. Though these drills can mean a lot to players trying to get into the NFL, it was a fun atmosphere for the military members participating and many showed off some impressive athleticism.
“What you see here today is USAA showing appreciation for our local military men and women, by having them participate in a boot camp,” USAA military affairs representative Eric Johnson told the media. “We’re doing this so they can get some genuine, authentic, fun being out here at the Raiders. Doing something that’s basically gonna give them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Allegiant Stadium is hosting this year’s Super Bowl so all the military members participating got to run drills where the eventual Super Bowl champions will play.
USAA Praises Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders have worked closely with USAA for years now. With Nellis Air Force Base not far from Allegiant Stadium, there are many active-duty military members in the community. Eric Johnson stressed how much it means to have a huge brand like the Raiders involved in their programs.
“It’s very important for USAA to partner with a team like the Raiders, as a part of our Salute to Service platform,” Johnson said. We’ve we’ve been partnering with the Raiders, since about 2020. And Las Vegas is a huge military community, a lot of veterans, a lot of military members and families. And so in an area like this, it gives us the opportunity to say thanks for their commitment and service, and then also to bring awareness to a greater community on the services and sacrifice that our military members make every day.”
It shows how much this means to the Raiders by the fact that they were willing to send active players to the event despite being in the middle of the regular season.
USAA Discusses Players Joining the Event
The NFL season is the busiest time of the year for players, even if they aren’t starters. USAA is very appreciative of multiple current and former players going out of their way to show support to the military.
“It means a lot,” Johnson told Heavy Sports when asked about players coming to show support. “USAA recognizes that the NFL is a venue and football is a venue that a lot of our service members relate to. And, you know, working together concept. And so we recognize this is a game at USAA that they really love. And so it means a lot for them to come out and interact with our service members. And as well as our service members getting a lot from that, because they share a lot of commonalities.”