By Spc. Ryan Stroud
3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division Public Affairs
BAQUBAH, Iraq -- "Super Bowl Sunday" is one night out of the year where it seems the whole world stops to watch a single football game between the two best teams from the Nation Football League. Many spectators gather up their best friends to eat chips, drink beer and watch the big game.
For the Soldiers of the 3rd "Grey Wolf" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, who are deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 06-08, Super Bowl XLI started differently than any other they had ever seen. There may not have been beer, but there were chips and a visit from former NFL players and cheerleaders who spent the evening hanging out and watching the game with the Soldiers.
Pro Bowlers, Kevin Greene, Lamar Lathon and Greg Biekert, accompanied by Riaderettes, Serrita Teer and Candy Burke, arrived at Forward Operating Base Warhorse to spend the evening watching the Super Bowl with the Grey Wolf Soldiers.
"[We're] here to tell the Soldiers a big Hooah and thank you," said Greene, a five-time Pro Bowler. "Thank you for what you do."
"We are here, representing the Oakland Raiders and the Raideretts, to support our American Troops in what they believe in and what we believe in," said Burke, a member of the Raiderettes Cheerleading Squad.
"It [was] really neat and exciting to be here," she continued. "We volunteer to come out here. In fact, there were about 20 of our girls that wanted to come, so we feel extremely honored to be out here and to get the chance to spend this time with the Soldiers."
Salie Gym played host to the enormous crowd of Soldiers who pilled into the gym for a night of fun, excitement and the big game. The players and cheerleaders interacted with the Soldiers by signing autographs, posing for pictures and watching the game together.
"There were a lot of people just hanging out and having fun before and [during] the game," said Spc. Adam Cook, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd BCT. "We got to meet and get autographs from all of the players and cheerleaders."
Pfc. Kevin Jones got the chance of a lifetime and played a one-on-one basketball game with Lathon before the big game started.
"Lamar Lathon and I were playing basketball earlier. We played a little one-on-one," said the Alta Loma, Calif., native. "It was nice -- made me feel like I was back at home again."
Soon the Super Bowl between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears began. Some Soldiers were sporting their favorite team's shirts and cheering as loud as they could, while others sat back and enjoyed the show.
At halftime, the Grey Wolf Soldiers were treated with their own halftime show, a sumo wrestling showdown between Greene and Grey Wolf's command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Donald Felt. Both warriors geared up in sumo body suits, including the traditional sumo hair, and wrestled for the entertainment of the Soldiers.
"It was cool to watch Kevin Greene sumo wrestle people," said Cook. "It was fun to watch everyone group around to watch the wrestling."
"We were all just having a good time," continued the Sturgis, Mich., native. "It really looked like the players and cheerleaders were keeping our mind off the Army atmosphere for a night."
As the game drew to a close, the players and cheerleaders answered questions from the crowd of Soldiers and took a few last pictures. Many Soldiers then, slowly, dragged out the doors to try to get a few hours of sleep before their work day was to begin.
"The whole experience of them being here is awesome," said Jones, a member of Distribution Company A, 215th. "It made me feel like I had people, other than my family, that really care about us out here. They really showed that they appreciate us and that's a good feeling."
"This means everything to me to be out here," said Greene. "Make no mistake; I have no illusion to who the real warriors are, none at all."
Greene, while playing numerous years for the NFL, also had a 16-year Army Reserve career.
"I wish I could speak for the whole country, [but I cannot]," Greene continued. "I can speak for myself and for my family and my friends. We love these troops and we stand behind them 110 percent, gung-ho, Hooah, behind them.
"My friends a family sleep easer at night underneath the canopy of freedom that these warriors provide," Greene said. "That's why it's important for us to be out here."
Both Burke and Teer said they felt the experience was a positive one and enjoyed their time with the Soldiers.
"Meeting the Soldiers is awesome, a real life changing experience for me," said Burke. "I hope we brought the Soldiers a smile and something they will remember when they head home."
"This experience is very fulfilling and very humbling," said Teer. "It's just really exciting to see the Soldiers and spend time with them."
"I hope we can bring laughter to the Soldiers," she continued. "It's a simple hope, but a lot of people might be missing that; and if we can bring that to the Soldiers, we have done our jobs."
"It's really important to get the experience of the other side, because all we know is what's on the news," Teer continued. "The news doesn't [completely] explain to us what is really going on, so it's cool to come out here get first-hand knowledge from the Soldiers about what's going on, what they're going through and to listen to the stories."
"The whole experience definitely boosted morale out here," said Cook. "It was nice to be able to socialize with someone from the civilian world and spend some time with good people."
Jones added the visit was an eye opener to who these players really are.
"They have helmets on when they play on Sundays, so you don't really know who they are because you can't see their faces," he said. "But with all their gear off, they are a whole new person."
"It's just really awesome," Jones added. "These kinds of visits really do raise morale and keeps all of us going."
This work, 'Grey Wolf' Soldiers Treated to Special Super Bowl Visitors, by SPC Ryan Stroud, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.