Raiders Waller, Ferrell meet Air Force members ahead of draft

LAS VEGAS ( Associated Press) — At their place of business, which just so happens to be Elegant Stadium, Darren Waller and Clein Farrell welcomed 100 members of Air Force bases nearby for Thursday’s pre-draft lunch and discussion.

Waller and Ferrell belonged to the service members as much — or as many — of the two Las Vegas Raiders as Army men and women.

Brought together by the USAA, which sponsors the annual Salute to Service award given to an NFL player for devotion to the military, the two players spoke of their deep appreciation for the American soldiers they serve on a daily basis.

The youngest of nine children of two military officers, defensive end Ferrell said, “You have a kind of restraint when danger is present.” “The experience of meeting people in the services, I’m a product of. My dad used to wear his uniform and shine his shoes daily, and then train soldiers to go to war.

“When I meet people in the military, they open up (because of their background) and it puts a nice presence on the experience.”

Waller, one of the NFL’s finest tight ends, spoke of being at an Air Force base and hearing explosives during training drills.

“And louder. I asked, ‘How do you handle this on a day-to-day basis,’ he said. “You can see how this can affect them in later life.”

Waller plans to become involved in health and personal health care after her career. With some similarities between the military and football such as teamwork, competitiveness, work ethic, and always having a rival, they feel they have a lot to offer to service members and their families – especially when their military careers end. goes.

“It’s okay to be tough, not knowing what you’re going to do,” he said. “People are there to support you.”

realizing a vision

The smile on Peter O’Reilly’s face was as bright as the desert sun.

The man in charge of putting together the NFL’s draft, an event as tough as staging the Super Bowl, stood near a theater built specifically for these proceedings on Wednesday. Nearby, 20 prospects were involved in football activities with the youth of the area. Behind O’Reilly, the NFL’s executive vice president of club business and league events, was the High Roller, an iconic Ferris wheel just off the Las Vegas Strip.

“It feels great and we couldn’t appreciate more,” O’Reilly said. “We have a core vision that has been around for three years. We have learned a lot about how it can grow and develop.

“There will be a sense of accomplishment and some relief when we’re past Mr. Irrelevant (the final selection in the draft on Saturday) and the marshmallow concert.”

In 2015, following a dispute with Radio City Music Hall in New York, the league opted to turn the draft into a roadshow.

From Chicago to Philadelphia, from Cowboys Stadium near Dallas to Nashville, it has turned into a huge party.

Two years ago, that party was held virtually, hosted by Commissioner Roger Goodell from his home due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last year, it was held in Cleveland but was not a full-scale operation.

There seems to be no stopping it, from embracing the Las Vegas character to the entertainment that seems to be a part of all major NFL events these days.

“It’s become a pilgrimage event by NFL fans,” O’Reilly said. “And we are in a destination market. Fans come and connect with each other, and they all feel that hope, which is the most (accurate) word for a draft.”

O’Reilly hopes to enjoy the three days always looking ahead. The 2023 draft is already in the development stages in Kansas City, Missouri. Plans for 2024 are also being drawn up in Detroit.

And, he points out, 20 NFL cities have expressed interest in hosting, with many already doing so.

Matthew and Aidan

Super Bowl champion quarterback Matthew Stafford was the top overall choice in the 2009 NFL Draft. Michigan edge rusher Aidan Hutchinson could go No. 1 on Thursday night.

So it seemed natural that Stafford, who spent his first 12 pro seasons with Detroit before joining the Los Angeles Rams last year — and winning a title — would be offering some advice to Hutchinson when the two raised questions with fans. -Answer session was conducted.

“Aidan has a good head on his shoulders,” Stafford said with fans at the Courtyard by Marriott “Bistro & Banter” event. “I would tell her to enjoy it, it’s a special day for her and her family. Hug no matter where you’re going, there will be good and bad times, like I’ve been on a trip. It’s a trip to something really special.” is the beginning.”

When Stafford spoke, Hutchinson listened intently, then smiled and said that “Maybe Matt and I will meet soon.” Meaning, of course, Stafford is being sacked by a rookie.

Unlike Stafford, Hutchinson had a star player as his father. His father, Chris, made some All-America teams in Michigan in 1992 and was inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame that year as a scholar-athlete.

Hutchinson said, “I never thought about measuring his legacy, and I enjoyed it.” “So that way, no pressure. It was a good thing we had as father and son.”

He then admitted that in elementary school he danced. His sisters and he danced competitively, although he made football his main commitment after five years of dancing.

“It definitely helps with balance and flexibility,” he said. “I can bust some moves.”

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