Sergeant Sean Karpf’s U.S. Army career was cut short after he stepped on an IED (improvised explosive device) while serving in Afghanistan in June 2012. Six years removed from the explosion that changed his life, Karpf, is in his third season with the Jacksonville Jaguars Strength and Conditioning Unit.
Karpf’s story, reported by Jac Collinsworth, will be featured on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m. – 1 p.m. ET) as part of ESPN’s Veterans Day programming. Front Row caught up with Collinsworth to learn more about the piece.
How did you prepare to tell this story?
We [ESPN’s features production unit] came across a story that the Jaguars had hired an Army veteran to their strength staff. I did all the reading we could find on Sean’s story and his connection to [Jaguars Executive Vice President for Football Operations] Tom Coughlin. We immediately knew it was a story we wanted to tell.
How did working on this story impact your perspective on veterans and the sacrifices they make for the country?
I have the great fortune, through this role with ESPN, to travel the country and meet a wide variety of people. Every time I come across a veteran, and his or her story, it is always the human element that strikes me most. Their selflessness is consistently the headline. Veterans have an understanding of teamwork and sacrifice that makes them unique. Being around somebody like Sean makes you a better person instantaneously. It is easy to understand why Coughlin wanted him around his guys on a daily basis.
What is your impression of Sgt. Karpf’s impact on the Jacksonville Jaguars organization?
[Jaguars quarterback Blake] Bortles tells an awesome training camp story that perfectly illustrates Sean’s impact on the Jaguars. What stands out most to me is that he is just one of the guys. He jabs with the players in the hallways, and they jab right back. There is a mutual respect. There is a feeling in the Jaguars organization that Sean understands what it means to be a teammate better than anyone in that building.