NFL players who excel on the field and in the community are continuing an NFL-USO tradition initiated more than 45 years ago as they prepare to take part in a weeklong visit to U.S. troops at military bases throughout the Middle East.
Two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will join Denver Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey, Cleveland Browns linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, Broncos linebacker Von Miller, Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith and Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt on the overseas trip. The group will spend time with service members in the annual renewal of the NFL-USO program. This tour marks the first NFL-USO tour abroad for all of the players involved.
"To represent the NFL and the Buccaneers, and to really show how much appreciation we have for the troops that serve our country, is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said Joseph. "I have the utmost respect for our servicemen and women and the things they do, the sacrifices they make for our country. To go out there, pay our respects to them and see how we can brighten up their day is what it's really all about."
Since joining the Buccaneers as a first-round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Joseph been the consummate professional, both on and off the field. He has started 83 of the 84 career games he has played on the Buccaneers' offensive line, anchoring a unit that has become one of the team's most consistent in recent years. Despite suffering a season-ending knee injury during the 2012 preseason, Joseph remained a committed teammate, dedicating his efforts to rehabilitation and returning in 2013 stronger than ever. He also strengthened his presence in communities throughout Florida, demonstrating his desire to have a positive impact on those less fortunate. All of that led to him being selected as the Buccaneers' Man of the Year for a second straight season.
Joseph, the Buccaneers' Players Association representative, has become almost as well-known for his enormous heart as for his long dreadlocks and broad smile. He serves as a United Way spokesperson and leads the NFL's United Way volunteer recruitment with "TEAM DAVIN," and his community efforts and foundation initiatives have made him as popular in local high schools and service agencies as he is at Raymond James Stadium. The Davin Joseph Events for Cause Foundation, as well as numerous Buccaneers initiatives including "Turkey Time with the O-Line" and "Davin's Dream Team," have helped Joseph establish lasting and impactful relationships in Tampa Bay and South Florida communities.
The NFL and USO have organized overseas morale-building visits for more than 45 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia to demonstrate the league's support for America's troops. Since then, NFL icons including Terry Bradshaw, Larry Csonka, Franco Harris, Howie Long, Don Meredith, Lynn Swann and Johnny Unitas have visited troops on NFL-USO tours in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Somalia.