Redskins linebacker Rocky McIntosh kicked off the offseason with a trip back to his roots, touring the United States military bases in Kuwait.
Brought up in an Army family (with his wife Alessia coming from an Air Force family), McIntosh has always been supportive of our nation’s military. Several weeks ago, he was offered an opportunity to tour Kuwait with fellow NFL players James Laurinaitis (Rams LB), Sam Bradford (Rams QB), and Seneca Wallace (Browns QB), as well as two Chiefs cheerleaders.
On this particular trip to visit deployed troops, he offered to take Redskins Nation with him, shooting footage and photos on his iPhone. This is a glimpse of Kuwait with your tour guide and cameraman, Rocky McIntosh:
Taking off from Washington, it was a 14-hour direct flight to Kuwait. During their week on the ground in Kuwait, the group was based out of Camp Arifjan, but visited eight other bases while they were on the ground.
This was Rocky’s abode while he was stationed at the base. As he notes in his video commentary, it closely resembles a college dorm room–broken TV and all:
At each base that they visited, the players were greeted by base commanders and soldiers enjoying free time. Sometimes the players were simply there to help the soldiers unwind.
Other times, they organized punt, pass and kick competitions to allow the players to display their physical prowess. There were some humbling moments for everyone, but there were also some pretty impressive displays:
At each base, the group was given “challenge coins,” specific to each camp. As it was explained to McIntosh and his fellow players, a challenge coin is a representation of squadron pride within the military, an illustration of someone “rising to the challenge.” To be given one as a civilian is a high honor, and a token of the soldiers’ appreciation for their time and effort.
Here is a picture of McIntosh’s coin collection once he got home:
The group was also given official certificates of appreciation, such as this one:
But after all of the fanfare and appreciation was taken care of, it was time to suit up, as the players joined the soldiers in games of flag football. McIntosh mostly served as a coach and cameraman, but said he was impressed with the enthusiasm that the soldiers displayed on the gridiron.
Clearly, there are some quality American athletes deployed in the Middle East:
At one of the last bases they visited, the soldiers wanted to play against one another without player intervention. The quarterback for the Red Team, known simply as “Slick,” put on a dazzling display running the Nebraska option offense.
McIntosh was particularly impressed with him, as he ran with the elusiveness of Brandon Banks, and bore a certain resemblance to linebacker London Fletcher in demeanor. See for yourself:
McIntosh also got the opportunity to reunite and play football with an old Miami Hurricanes teammate, Willie Cooper. Cooper and McIntosh were in the same year at Miami, and while Rocky went to the Redskins, Cooper declined an invitation to the Bears’ camp, choosing a career in the Army.
Rocky reached out to him once he knew he was going to Kuwait, and the two were able to meet up and get a picture with “The U”:
Along with his details of the trip, McIntosh also gave a full review of the country of Kuwait. Here’s a list of random facts, in no particular order:
- There are posted speed limits on the desert roads, but no one really seems to obey them. Convoys on the desert highways can be going speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, which makes head-on collisions disastrous. McIntosh noted that there were some “messed up wrecks” off to the side of the road.
He also noted that there were speed traps when you were coming back into town:
- Many of the servicemen and women were from the U.S. midwest, and some of them were fans of the Rams, which led to McIntosh and Wallace feeling a little left out. Fortunately for McIntosh, the Redskins Cheerleaders did a tour through Kuwait before Christmas. As a result, the First Ladies of Football–and subsequently the Washington Redskins–were still favorites among the servicemen in those camps.
- No alcohol is permitted in the country, which leads to wine and liquor stores with zero percent alcohol:
- One of the top experiences of the trip was getting to watch the Super Bowl in the mess hall with the soldiers. As McIntosh recalled, no commercials are ever played on the armed forces networks, so no Super Bowl commercials were played either. But in an effort to make it a more enjoyable experience, Army soldiers had filmed their own funny (sometimes cheesy) commercials to be broadcast during the commercial breaks, and were a hit with those watching the game.
Despite all of the appreciation that was shown to McIntosh and his fellow players during their time in Kuwait, the real appreciation came from the players for what the soldiers allow them to do.
“I’ll do anything for the military,” McIntosh said, in reflection. “They’re the real heroes here.”
Good work, Rocky, and thanks for including us on the tour.