The Los Angeles Rams played their annual Salute to Service military appreciation game Sunday, honoring and supporting members of the military in a 33-7 victory over the Houston Texans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams honored servicemen and women who died while serving in the armed forces or from injuries sustained while serving in the post-9/11 era by having each player on the team wear the initials of one of the service members on his helmet.
The families of 60 fallen service men and women for the Los Angeles region and surrounding areas were given the opportunity to attend Saturday’s practice and meet the player who be wearing their family member’s initials on their helmet. The families will be honored during the pregame ceremony as they lit the Coliseum’s torch before the opening kickoff.
Former Rams and USC quarterback Jim Hardy was honored as the team’s Alumnus of the Game during the second quarter. Hardy served aboard the battleship USS Maryland during World War II.
The 94-year-old Hardy played with the Rams during their first three seasons in Los Angeles, 1946-48.
While former Rams defensive back turned Miracles lead singer Sydney Justin sang the national anthem, 55 Marines and Navy sailors from Camp Pendleton formed a line in front of Rams players and coaches. The Marines and sailors were also recognized on the field.
The March Field Composite Squadron 45 Color Guard presented the colors.
Former Rams linebacker David Vobora and two veterans from his Adaptive Training Foundation were also honored. Vobora was the final player chosen in the 2008 NFL draft. He played for the then-St. Louis-based team from 2008 to 2010. He concluded his NFL career in 2011 by playing the for the Seattle Seahawks.
Vobora is the Rams nominee for the Salute to Service Award which annually recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring the military community. The finalists will be announced in January and the recipient Feb. 3 during NFL Honors, the league’s awards special.
Vobora’s foundation works with adaptive athletes, such as amputees, paraplegics, quadriplegics and the physically impaired. Vobora trains a group for nine weeks at no cost. Each athlete is assigned a volunteer trainer who helps design exercises specific to that athlete’s body.
The Rams also honored former Marine Jason Ross, who worked in explosive ordnance disposal for two deployments. He lost his legs when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and was hospitalized for a year.
The Rams honor a current or former service member at every home game.
Each NFL team designates a home game in November as its Salute to Service game. Players wear camouflage equipment including quarterback towels and captain’s patches and Salute to Service gloves. Helmets have decals honoring the branches of the military and the NFL’s Salute to Service ribbon.
Coaches and sideline personnel wear camouflage hats. Coaches and team executives wear camouflage metal lapel pins.
The game balls have the Salute to Service ribbon. A Salute to Service coin is used for the coin toss.
There were camouflage goal post wraps and pylons with camouflage ribbon decals. The words “NFL Salute to Service” were written in the back of the end zones.
The NFL does not profit from the sale of Salute to Service products, a league official said. All charitable contributions are donated to the league’s nonprofit military partners, including the Pat Tillman Foundation, TAPS, USO and the Wounded Warrior Project.
For the first time, the NFL will donate $5 for every use of the #SalutetoService hashtag on Twitter to its military nonprofit partners up to a total of $5 million. The NFL previously donated $1,000 for every point scored in the 32 Salute to Service games to its military military appreciation nonprofit partners.