Members of the Green Bay Packers and Phoenix Cardinals attend base-wide festivities
Story and photos by Greg Mitchell; FLEACT, Yokosuka, Public Affairs
Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka were graced with the presence of National Football League (NFL) players from the Green Bay Packers and the Phoenix Cardinals, during meet and greet sessions held throughout the installation, Feb. 3.
Former Packers fullback William Henderson, current Packers linebacker Brad Jones, and guard/center Gregory Van Roten and Arizona Cardinals cornerback Justin Bethel, were all in attendance to sit down, sign autographs and take photos with those serving in the forward-deployed area of responsibility.
“The reason why we are here is understood by everyone of us,” said Henderson. “It sounds cliché but we enjoy the safe boarders we have in the United States. We are here to celebrate the men and women of our armed forces. Thanks to Navy Entertainment, we have been given this opportunity to share a few moments hopefully distracting our Sailors and Marines from normal day-to-day stress and build morale as we say thank you.”
The players’ time at FLEACT Yokosuka was split up per quarter; 1st quarter was at the Officers Club and 2nd quarter was the CPO Club; Halftime and the start of the 3rd was held at the Single Sailor Liberty Center in Fleet Gym and carried over to Club Alliance and finally ending with the 4th quarter at Benny Decker Theater.
“Prior to our arrival here, we visited Okinawa yesterday,” said Cardinals Pro Bowl cornerback Justin Bethel. “Coming to Japan has been a great experience. So far we have been to parts of Tokyo like Harajuku, Roppongi and so forth. It’s been really cool and different, something special to see and be a part of.”
Players had the opportunity to share with service members and their families their experiences on and off the field and how it is to be an NFL player. Sailors asked the players to provide some insights on players who are of most valuable player-caliber.
“Aaron Rodgers is such an awesome guy,” said Van Roten. “He is feisty and he knows how to get the best out of his teammates. He is just a great leader with a solid locker room presence, but he is also really down to earth and easy going off the field.”
Each area had its own special mixture to provide a Super Bowl atmosphere. Foods ranged from chicken wings and nachos, to popcorn and soft drinks. People in attendance also had the opportunity to wear Packer Super Bowl championship rings for photos and win assorted prizes.
“I have personally been a Green Bay fan for my entire life,” said Airman Austin Wroblewski of USS George Washington (CVN 73). Wroblewski was one of the winners of an autographed football. “This is the first time I have had an opportunity to engage with real players. It’s been fun and it’s really good to talk and to get pictures with them. I plan to send my ball home and have my parents put it next to all the other memorabilia I have in my room.”
Some in attendance thought it was excited to get the rare opportunity to meet a player in Henderson who actually participated in and won a Super Bowl.
“I think it’s an honor to come here and shake this man’s hand,” said Machinist Mate 3rd class Allen Moe of the fullback who helped win Super Bowl XXXI against the New England Patriots and also saw action in Super Bowl XXXII against the Denver Broncos. “This is crazy to me….my parents will freak out when they hear this. I got my cheese head at home; I have been a Packers fan for life.”
Super Bowl XLVIII was a contest between the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks held at Metlife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey, ending with a 43-8 victory for the Seahawks.Linebacker Malcolm Smith became the third linebacker in NFL history to earn Super Bowl most valuable player honors.