Editor’s note: This week, in recognition of Veterans Day 2013, Front Row will present looks at various people and programs behind America’s Heroes: A Salute to the Troops Presented by USAA initiative.[box color=black size=small align=left]
Jeff Gordon, NASCAR
Matt Kenseth, NASCAR
Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR
Andrew Luck, NFL
Jerrell Freeman, NFL
Chuck Pagano, NFL
Josh Freeman, NFL
Rex Ryan, NFL
Nick Mangold, NFL
Geno Smith, NFL
Chris Long, NFL
Allyson Felix, track & field
Sanya Richards-Ross, track & field [/box]
Beginning Thursday, ESPN will air its annual series of sports figure tributes to America’s military as part of its Veterans Week programming.
A new batch of “shout-outs” from athletes and coaches representing various pro and college sports will join vintage vignettes assembled through the years. In the past year, ESPN’s event production units and espnW have asked interview subjects such as the NFL’s Andrew Luck, NASCAR’s Jimmie Johnson and Olympic track and field stars Allyson Felix and Sanya Richards-Ross to send salutes.
“The response was overwhelming,” said Bill Graff, ESPN’s senior coordinating producer, Studio, who’s compiled the videos. “It’s a distinguished list. Whenever the producers go out, they send notes back that say, ‘Bill, these people were really glad to do this, they were very proud to be a part of the whole thing’.”
The 13 new vignettes will be interspersed with older salutes from sports stars including LeBron James, Pat Riley, Dwyane Wade, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Bill Parcells, Diana Taurasi and Jennie Finch, among many others. Country music star Toby Keith’s song “American Soldier” is heard in the introduction.
The tributes will air throughout Veterans Week programming, including during studio shows on Thursday; SportsCenter’s live shows from the U.S. Naval Academy all day Friday and the Armed Forces Classic college basketball telecast from South Korea that evening; and through Monday, Nov. 11, Veterans Day shows.