This Sunday, November 8, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will continue an annual tradition to honor those who have sacrificed and served our country, when they host the New Orleans Saints for the team's Salute to Service Game. In conjunction with USAA, the Official Salute to Service Partner of the Buccaneers and the NFL, the team will present military appreciation tributes throughout Sunday's game.
Fans in attendance will be treated to a special video at halftime showcasing an enlistment ceremony that took place at Raymond James Stadium earlier this week. General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., Commander of the United States Central Command, led the ceremony which enlisted 44 service members in the Army (5), Army National Guard (5), Navy (12), Marines (12), Air Force (5) and Coast Guard (5). Fleet Master Chief James Herdel, Senior Enlisted Leader of the United States Central Command, was also in attendance.
In addition to tokens of appreciation from the Buccaneers organization, the Enlistees received a thank you message from the Buccaneers' Salute to Service Award Nominee, to be announced next week.
General McKenzie and Fleet Master Chief Herdel will both be recognized during Sunday night's game. Following the presentation, Buc-Beat Line will give a special military-themed performance.
Messaging and videos of service members cheering on the Buccaneers from home will play on BucVision throughout gameday. Salute to Service field stencils and goal post wraps will be incorporated on the field, and Salute to Service-themed gear will be worn by players and coaches. Select game-used gear will be made available on NFL Auction* to support the NFL's military non-profit partners. Other Salute to Service elements that will lead up to and take place during Sunday's game include:
Coin Toss: Prior to kickoff, the Buccaneers will present a special military challenge coin, designed and created by USAA, for use in the official coin toss. In what has become a long-standing tradition, challenge coins are given by one member of the military to another to reward or encourage excellence, boost morale, or to recognize a fellow brother- or sister-in-arms.
Hero of the Game: Captain Drake Allan Bazzle: Prior to kickoff, the Buccaneers will continue a gameday tradition by honoring the team's military "Hero of the Game." At every Buccaneers home game, a military service member is stationed on the Pirate Ship in Buccaneer Cove to ready the team for kickoff. On Sunday, the Buccaneers will honor Captain Drake Allan Bazzle of the United States Army National Guard. Captain Bazzle, of Tampa, recently completed a 14-month deployment in Kuwait as part of CENTCOM – Operation Spartan Shield. In his nine of years of service, Captain Bazzle has been honored with following Awards/Medals:
- ARCOM (Army Commendation)
- ARCAM (Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal)
- Global War on Terrorism
- Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary
- Overseas Service
- Army Good Conduct
Buccaneers Salute to Service Suite, supported by Jabil: At every Buccaneers home game, the team honors a distinguished group of military members in the Salute to Service Suite, supported by Jabil. Fans are encouraged to join players and coaches during a break in play in the second quarter to thank local servicemen and servicewomen as they are recognized aboard the Pirate Ship at Raymond James Stadium. On Sunday, the Buccaneers will recognize the following:
- Staff Sergeant Linda Balk (Air Force)
- Major Dana Jacobs (Army)
- Lieutenant Commander Rick McVoy (Navy)
- Major Joy Crenshaw (Army)
Salute to Service Moment, presented by USAA: During a break in play, the public address announcer will ask all military members in attendance to stand and be honored for the game's Salute to Service Moment, presented by USAA.
NFL Salute to Service: Salute to Service is the NFL's year-round effort to honor, empower and connect with our nation's service members, veterans, and their families through long-standing partnerships that support our military community. The NFL, its clubs and players thank the Armed Forces serving in the United States and around the world. Join the NFL in Salute to Service by visiting NFL.com/Salute.
The league works with its core military charitable partners including the Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO, Bob Woodruff Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project, to fund programs and provide resources that positively impact veterans, active duty military and their families.
Since 2011, the NFL has donated more than $44 million to its military nonprofit partners.
- The NFL supports the Pat Tillman Foundation; providing more than 695 service members, veterans and military spouses with academic scholarships through the Tillman Scholar Program.
- Since 2007, NFL players and coaches have traveled on USO Tours to 27 countries to meet and thank more than 97,000 service members.
- The NFL honors families of those who sacrificed their life serving our country through a partnership with TAPS. More than 5,000 surviving family members have participated in NFL recognition events since 2015.
- With the NFL's support of Wounded Warrior Project, more than 185,000 wounded veterans and family support members have been provided access to free programs and resources in mental health, career counseling, and long-term rehabilitative care.
- In 2019, the NFL and BWF extended their partnership with an $8 million, three-year partnership designed to optimize the positive impact that the NFL and its 32 clubs have on the military-veteran community by leveraging BWF's expertise in finding, funding and shaping programs that deliver measurable results.
Since 2011, USAA has used its sponsorship to honor and appreciate active-duty military, veterans and their families by creating unique opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together. For more information on the Buccaneers' Salute to Service initiatives, visit www.buccaneers.com/community/salute-to-service.
*The NFL does not profit from the sale or auction of Salute to Service items on NFL Auction.