Thursday, April 24, 2008

Former Massillon football star Chris Spielman shows he's a class act

Chris Spielman may be one of the nicest pro athletes I've ever interviewed. At least in the top five. He's polite and treats journalists with the same respect he'd like in return. Let's just say not all athletes do that.

Recently, Spielman flew over to Kuwait to visit with American troops .. including hundreds of Ohio troops from the National Guard's 37th Brigade Combat Team. He was there as part of Operation Gridiron, which sends former NFL stars to the Middle East to support the troops.

According to a release from the Ohio National Guard, once Spielman knew there were Ohio troops in Kuwait waiting to move forward into Iraq, he added extra stops in his schedule so he could visit more base camps and see the Ohio troops. He even put together a make-shift sand football team and tried his hand at coaching. (pictures courtesy the Ohio Army National Guard)

"This trip is a very small way to serve my country compared to our service members," Spielman said in the NG press release, "but it's the best way at this time in my life. My favorite part of events like this is the fact the guys appreciate us being here. I appreciate that they are here. It's very humbling."

This is the kind of stuff that is just awesome for the troops. For the Ohio Guardsmen who had just arrived and are facing a year in Iraq, getting a little touch of home and seeing a celebrity makes for a nice memory.
During my tour in 2003-04, very, very few of the celebrities made time to visit the smaller base camps. Most wanted to stick to the basics, see the larger groups and move on. As a result, some troops got to see celebrity entertainers, pro athletes, Kid Rock, etc .. while other troops got to see sand and camels and that's about it because they weren't in the larger base camps.
Spielman's a class act.

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