Watching a post-game wrap up of the NFL’s week 15, I caught bonus footage of the Green Bay Packers’ locker room after the game. Following a 38-21 victory over the San Diego Chargers, Packers Head Coach Mike Sherman invited in a veteran from the war in Iraq, whose war scars limited him to a wheelchair and gave him a new prosthetic arm. Sherman spoke highly of the wounded soldier and stated that, “Without what this man does [in Iraq], we can’t do what we do here.” He proceeded to give the soldier the game ball, which was followed by a very warm and enthusiastic round of applause by the tightly huddled Packers team.
I must say that I was nothing short of touched by Sherman’s decision. Even as an anti-war advocate, this really stirred up some powerful emotions inside of me. I was saddened at the thought of this man being confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life for his heroic deeds on the battlefield at war. I thought about how President George W. Bush and the United States government are using soldiers and their bodies in perpetuating bloodshed, and for what? Surely the thought of Saddam Hussein’s capture provides some solace for the American people as a positive result of our involvement in this war. But to the man who will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair, solace lies in the actions of Sherman and the Green Bay Packers.
By his actions, Sherman made it clear to me that sports are such an important part of our lives and that our professional athletes have not only an immense opportunity, but also a genuine responsibility to make a difference in and impact people’s lives. With this in mind, I think this same attitude carries over into the local level and is even easier to enact. All athletes, professional and recreational should see how inspirational the Green Bay Packers were and consider how they can make an impact in other people’s lives.