Veterans Day: 10 NFL Players Who Served Overseas

Pauly Kwestel@pkwestelWFAN Correspondent INovember 10, 2010

Veterans Day: 10 NFL Players Who Served Overseas

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    TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01:  Arizona Cardinals fans wearing Pat Tillman jerseys (L-R) Dave Schile, Bruce Goff and Dave Schile Jr. look on outside of Raymond James Stadium before Super Bowl XLIII on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    In honor of Veterans Day, it's time for us to take a moment to acknowledge the men and women who fight or have fought for our freedom. 

    Thanks to their bravery, we can sit back and enjoy the NFL—along with the rest of our freedoms—every Sunday. 

    With that said, let us pay particular tribute to several NFL players that have joined our armed forces in battle overseas.

    Here are 10 NFL players who served our country. 

10. Don Steinbrunner

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    PITTSBURGH - SEPTEMBER 09:  2010 Women's US Open Champion Paula Creamer lands back on base with Kristin 'Mother' Hubbard after flying in an F-16 with the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds on September 9, 2010 at the Air Force Reserve Base in Pittsburgh, Pennsyl
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Don Steinbrunner was an offensive tackle with the 1953 Cleveland Browns.

    Joining the Air Force in 1966 and Steinbrunner was sent to fight in Vietnam. 

    On July 20th, 1967, Steinbrunner's plane was shot down killing all five men aboard.

    Steinbrunner was one of 28 NFL players who served in the Vietnam War and was one of two that lost their life. 

9. Jack Chevigny

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    SOUTH BEND, IN - OCTOBER 30: A player for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish wears a decal on his helmut honoring Declan Sullivan, a student who was killed while videotaping a Notre Dame practice in high winds this past week, before a game against the Tulsa Go
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Jack Chevigny's biggest football moment came in 1928 as a running back for the Notre Dame fighting Irish when he scored the winning touchdown against Army in the famous "win one for the Gipper" game. 

    While he did not play in the NFL, he did become the Head Coach of the Chicago Cardinals.

    Later, he would enlist in the US Army to help combat the Japanese in World War II. Despite surviving the initial landing at Iwo Jima, Chevigny lost his life to enemy fire within his first 48 hours on the island.

    Chevigny was one of 26 members of the NFL who gave their lives in WWII and one of 995 members who fought in the war. 

8. Bob Kalsu

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    Bob Kalsu was the Buffalo Bills 1968 rookie of the year. Following his rookie season Kalsu left the Bills to join the army. 

    He entered the army as a second lieutenant in the 101st Airborne and arrived in Vietnam during November of 1969.

    On July 21st 1970, Kalsu's unit came under enemy fire and he was killed. 

7. Pat Tillman

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    14 Nov 1999: Pat Tillman #40 of the Arizona Cardinals runs to catch the  pass during the game against the Detroit Lions at the Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Lions 23-19. Mandatory Credit: Tom Hauck  /Allsport
    Tom Hauck/Getty Images

    Pat Tillman was an All-Pro safety for the Arizona Cardinals. Following the terror attacks on September 11th, 2001, Tillman enlisted in the United States Army and was deployed to Afghanistan. 

    On April 22nd, 2004, Pat Tillman was killed.

    Tillman is the only former NFL player to lose his life in the war on terror. 

6. Charlie Joiner

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    SAN DIEGO - 1985:  Wide receiver Charlie Joiner #18 of the San Diego Chargers runs with the ball as he is being tackled from behind during a game against the Washington Redskins in 1985 at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Rick Stew
    Rick Stewart/Getty Images

    One of the most successful wide receivers in NFL history, Charlie Joiner played football for 18 seasons, primarily with the San Diego Chargers.

    A three-time Pro Bowler and a member of the Hall of Fame, Joiner currently coaches the Wide Receivers for the San Diego Chargers. 

    He is one of 28 NFL players to have served in the Vietnam War. 

5. Ray Nitschke

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    Ray Nitschke played 15 seasons at middle linebacker for the Green Bay Packers. Among his many NFL honors, Nitschke was the MVP of the 1962 NFL Championship game. 

    He is a member of the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1960's and has been inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. 

    Despite his many accomplishments on the filed, perhaps Nitschke's greatest feat was serving in the military during the middle of his NFL career. 

4. Dick 'Night Train' Lane

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    Dick 'Night Train' Lane was a star cornerback for the Los Angeles Rams, Chicago Cardinals, and Detroit Lions. During his rookie year, Lane set the NFL record for most interceptions in a season with 14—a record that stands to this day.

    Lane was selected to seven Pro Bowls, was a member of the 1950's All-Decade team, and was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time team. 

    Prior to starting his NFL career, Lane spent four years in the US Army. 

3. Chuck Bednarik

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    Chuck Bednarik was the last of the NFL's "60 minute men."

    Bednarik played 13 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1967.

    Before his NFL career began, Bednarik served in the US Army Air Corps during World War II and flew several combat missions over German territory.

2. Roger Staubach

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    FORT LAUDERDALE, FL - FEBRUARY 04:  Roger Staubach, former NFL quarterback, holds a football with the new Super Bowl logo during a press conference held at the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center as part of media week for Super Bowl XLIV on February 4, 2010
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Roger Staubach is best known leading the Dallas Cowboys to two Super Bowl's under coach Tom Landry in the 1970's. 

    A member of the NFL Hall of Fame and a former Super Bowl MVP, Staubach was also the quarterback for Navy in college where he won the Heisman Trophy and has since been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. 

    Prior to playing football in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys, Staubach served in Vietnam for two years as a member of the United States Navy.

1. Otto Graham

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    After graduating from Northwestern University, Otto Graham served in the United States Coast Guard during World War II.

    Before he finished serving, Graham accepted a two year contract from the Cleveland Browns offered by then Head Coach Paul Brown.

    Graham led Browns to the championship game in each of his 10 season. 

    Of his 10 trips to the title game, Graham won seven league titles including three in the NFL and only lost 17 games over the course of his career.


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