By U.S. Navy Petty Officer Second Class William Selby
It’s 1:00 a.m. and I just arrived back at my hotel after the 2010 NFL Pro Bowl in Miami. The event was everything I thought it would be and more.
My passion always has and will always be the sport of football and apparently I have some company.
Yesterday, at the last practice before the showdown today, I met Ray Anderson, the National Football League’s executive vice president of football operations. One of Anderson’s colleagues had spotted me in uniform the day before and told me that he was doing something rather unique for a servicemember.
Before the Pro Bowl began, Anderson shared the story of how he met U.S. Army Spc. Ricky Sanford. Sanford, a 23-year-old Alabama native, is with the 4th BCT, 4ID, Fort Carson, Colo. Sandrod is currently stationed at Forward Operating Base Blessing in the Kunar Province, Afghanistan.
Sanford, who returned to the United States for “R&R” leave explained that he was bumped up to first class on his flight back to Florida. Little did he know that one gesture would provide him an opportunity to meet Anderson.
During the flight, Anderson and Sanford discussed family and friends. Sanford shared photographs of his wife and fellow servicemembers still serving in Afghanistan.
Anderson, moved by Sanford’s devotion to family and fellow servicemembers, felt an instant connection. During the flight, Anderson invited Sanford and his family to the Pro Bowl.
Now, here I stand on the field talking to them, and Sanford leaves in a matter of days to continue his duty in Afghanistan.
It’s great to know that there are people like Sanford who stay in great spirits even when returning from a not so great place and men like Anderson, who show their appreciation to those servicemembers.
After the interview, we were able to take in the game itself, which the AFC won 41-34.
Tomorrow, it’s time to start gearing up for the Super Bowl; hopefully I can hear of some more great stories like Ricky Sanford’s and Ray Anderson’s.