New Orleans Saints defensive end CAMERON JORDAN, Miami Dolphins cornerback BYRON MAXWELL and Tennessee Titans tight end DELANIE WALKER will embark on a week-long NFL-USO tour to Southwest Asia to visit U.S. troops and their families at military bases, the NFL announced today. These NFL ambassadors were selected to participate in the tour for their excellence on and off the field and charitable endeavors.
An extension of Salute to Service, the League's year-long military appreciation campaign, this year's NFL-USO tour will feature an array of base activities from military-themed athletic competitions and unit visits to one-on-one meetings with base leadership at four locations in three countries. The players will also spend quality time with service members and their families, as well as pass out two sports-themed USO2GO kits designed to help service members in remote locations relax and recharge.
"The NFL is pleased to work with the USO on another goodwill tour and provide players with the chance to engage with service men and women. These brave individuals in uniform, who fight for our safety every day, are true heroes and represent the spirit for which our country stands," said NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility ANNA ISAACSON. "The players participating in this tour are profoundly appreciative of military members and now have the chance to say 'thank you' in person."
For over 50 years, the NFL and USO have worked together to support the military and connect service members to family, home and country. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send players on a tour to Vietnam and other parts of the Far East. Since then, more than 250 NFL players, coaches and executives, including TERRY BRADSHAW, BILL COWHER, FRANCO HARRIS, LARRY FITZGERALD, LYNN SWANN and J.J. WATT, have visited troops on NFL-USO tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Somalia. In 2008 Commissioner ROGER GOODELL became the first sports commissioner to visit the troops overseas as part of a USO tour when he visited Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The USO cannot say enough about the incredible support and generosity of the NFL over the last 51 years," said USO CEO and President J.D. CROUCH. "Their ongoing commitment as a Force Behind the Forces plays a major role in helping the USO fulfill its mission of strengthening our service members by keeping them connected to family, home and country. We are proud to work with the NFL on yet another entertainment tour, and look forward to bringing smiles and a piece of home to the many service members stationed in Southwest Asia."
In addition to overseas morale-building visits, the NFL has supported several different USO projects throughSalute to Service, and earlier this year, announced a $5M commitment to the USO over the next three years to support the expansion and refurbishment of USO centers and programming.
Below is information on players participating in this year's NFL-USO tour. For more information on the USO please visit uso.org.
CAMERON JORDAN (New Orleans Saints)
Cameron Jordan anchored the defensive line in his fifth NFL season, recording 61 tackles (40 solo), 10 sacks for a total loss of 67 yards, seven passes defensed, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries and was selected to his second career Pro Bowl. His 10 sacks tied for 15th in the NFL. It marked the second time in his career that he's posted at least 10 takedowns, making him just the ninth Saint with multiple double-digit sack seasons. Jordan also tied for ninth in the league in defensive fumble recoveries. An explosive and physical defensive end, the former University of California standout possesses the combination of size, speed and strength to play defensive end in either a 3-4 or 4-3 alignment. Jordan has appeared in 80 games with 79 starts, posting career totals of 327 stops (188 solo), 39 quarterback takedowns, 25 passes defensed, six forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries.
The son of a long-time NFL veteran, Jordan learned very early the importance of giving back. Jordan frequently spreads positive messages about the importance of literacy and character development to students in both elementary and high school throughout the school year, as well as during the Saints/United Way Annual Community Patrol Summer Camps. He is the designated LIVE UNITED player representing the Saints and the United Way of Southeast Louisiana. As the key spokesman of the Saints/Copeland's Kids Club, he hosts a football skills camp every year for all members and helps to promote the NFL's PLAY 60 message through various initiatives, but most often, via team-sponsored Junior Training Camps and Playworks Louisiana visits.
Jordan also has a special place in his heart for all events related to uplifting the New Orleans community and practicing goodwill during the holiday season by participating in team turkey giveaways and Christmas gift giveaways. Year-round, he never hesitates to volunteer for any hospital visit, military initiative, or health-related initiatives such as Breast Cancer awareness visits.
BYRON MAXWELL (Miami Dolphins)
Byron Maxwell was acquired by the Dolphins in a trade from Philadelphia in March 2016 and was originally drafted by the Seahawks in 2011. In 2016 he started 13 games and recorded 53 tackles (43 solo), two interceptions, 15 passes defensed and four forced fumbles. He was second in the NFL among defensive backs with four forced fumbles and tied for 13th in the league with 15 passes defensed. His 15 passes defensed this season are the most by a Dolphins player since 2008 (Andre Goodman).
A native of North Charleston, S.C., Maxwell dedicates a significant amount of time and resources to his community through Maxwell's Way, a foundation serving area residents. The foundation's mission is to inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge and strengthen communities. Maxwell is committed to enhancing the lives of youth and providing them with chances at upward mobility by partnering with organizations and institutions of learning. In addition to actively serving his hometown, Maxwell is a pillar of the Miami community, regularly partaking in Dolphins community events. This past Thanksgiving, he and fellow teammates teamed with Publix to host students from Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach countries to shop for Thanksgiving meals. Additionally, Maxwell joined teammates and Dolphins executives in the seventh edition of Dolphins Cancer Challenge, a fundraiser including 4,000 cancer fighters who joined together to tackle cancer. This year's event featured the largest turnout of participants in its history and raised funds for cancer research at Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center.
DELANIE WALKER (Tennessee Titans)
The Titans targeted Delanie Walker early in the 2013 free agency period to bring physicality, versatility and leadership to the offense. He has delivered that and more, becoming one of the NFL's top play-making tight ends. The tight end brings a unique element to the offense and poses match-up problems for defenses with his ability to line up in the backfield, on the line, in the slot and as a wideout. The 6-foot-2-inch, 248-pounder spent the first seven years of his career with the San Francisco 49ers after being selected in the sixth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. His first three seasons in Tennessee arguably resulted in the best three-year stretch in franchise history by a player at his position. During that time, his 217 receptions and 2,549 receiving yards (to go with 16 touchdowns) set a franchise high for a tight end in any consecutive three-year period, and his reception and yardage totals ranked third and fourth, respectively, in the NFL in that timespan. In 2015, he set the single-season franchise records among tight ends with 94 receptions and 1,088 receiving yards, leading to his first career Pro Bowl invitation.
Walker was named the Tennessee Titans Community Man of the Year in 2013 and 2015, due in large part to his tireless work with Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He teamed with MADD to help raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving after losing his aunt and uncle in a horrific accident near New Orleans after Super Bowl XLVII. The morning after San Francisco's loss to Baltimore at the Superdome, an alleged drunk driver killed Alice and Bryan Young only hours after Walker hugged Alice and Bryan at the team's postgame party. In addition to his work with MADD, Walker is an ambassador with the Tennessee Governor's Highway Safety Office's "Booze It and Lose It" campaign. During the 2016 offseason, Walker spearheaded a benefit dinner and auction for his foundation called "Carving It Up with Delanie Walker." He also launched "Delanie Walker's Imagination Station" at Fall-Hamilton Elementary School in collaboration with Scholastic Book Fairs to provide a new fully-furnished reading room for students.