It was a big celebration on Fort Benning as they hosted the NFL and USO Salute to Service event for Superbowl 53.
“We really want to say thank you so much to all of our service members and bring a little bit of Superbowl excitement out here to Ft. Benning,” says Director of Community Relations for the NFL Lisa Schiller.
The NFL, USO and Atlanta Falcons hosted a dinner and fan-fest to honor as many as 2,000 service members and their families.
“It should be a really fun night of music, of food and some football fun, with our players and cheerleaders and our mascots that are coming,” Schiller says.
Caleb McCarter has only been in the army for a short time but says it’s already nice to see the thanks.
“I enjoy it. It’s kind of a nice reward back. It’s a nice treat,” he said.
He says its even better since it’s his team with the chance for another ring. “Patriots all the way. 28-14 Patriots,” he laughed.
But fellow soldier and Rams fan Elijah Lang says not so fast.
“Rams 35 beating the Patriots. Its been a long time coming for us. So its time that we went,” Lang said.
The NFL also gave away two sets of tickets to the Superbowl. One to a retired soldier and the other to an active duty soldier. Along with the friendly rivalry and giveaways, there were also chances to meet a few falcons cheerleaders and players. One player has roots in Columbus.
“It was really cool to see all the people that serve our country.. My dad was born here. My grandpa was stationed here back in the 60s or 70s but its kind of a cool experience,” Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle Justin Zimmer said.
To end the night, service members had the opportunity to listen to the season nine winner of the voice Jordan Smith.
“I felt honored for sure. I felt a little unqualified. Its just a huge honor to be here to celebrate this amazing time,” Smith smiled.
“Just seeing people have a great night, both with each other but also with the NFL is always great for us,” Schiller concluded.