From Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Missouri
Led by head coach Todd Haley and 10 players, the Chiefs put aside their OTA practice sessions and meetings on Wednesday morning to say thank you to the men, women and families that protect our country.
Haley and the team’s quarterbacks and running backs made the one-hour drive down Highway 50 to Whiteman Air Force Base where they had a meet and great with everyone from the base vice-commander to little kids wearing Chiefs t-shirts.
All of this was done on the base tarmac, with the B-2 Stealth Bomber serving as the backdrop for fans and the Chiefs.
“There are a lot of Chiefs fans here at Whiteman,” said Colonel Rickey Rodgers, the base’s vice-commander. “We have personnel from all around the country and we have a lot of football teams that people are interested in. But the biggest group of fans cheer for the Chiefs.”
The Chiefs have long been associated with the folks at Whiteman AFB, but their visit on Wednesday was coordinated with the Veteran of Foreign Wars and that group’s “Return the Favor” program. Officials from the VFW headquarters in Kansas City were also on hand for the event.
“There isn’t a Sunday out there, when you see the men and women in uniform, it brings tears to my eyes,” Haley said. “These people are making the ultimate sacrifice.”
Joining Haley for the trip were QBs Matt Cassel, Brodie Croyle, Matt Gutierrez and Tyler Palko, and RBs Thomas Jones, Kestahn Moore, Mike Cox, Tim Castille, Javarris Williams and Jackie Battle. Also with the group were Pro Football Hall of Fame LB Bobby Bell, Chiefs Hall of Fame S Deron Cherry and former radio broadcaster Bill Grigsby.
“To have them come out and spend time with us really means a lot,” said Colonel Rodgers. “They are committed people and they have work to do. For them to think of us is special.”
Not as special for Haley on what a visit to a military installation like Whiteman can do for him and his players.
“I think it gives us an understanding and appreciation for what we have and why we have it,” Haley said. “We have a young team and part of the education we are trying to impart to them is just that β it’s not all football, and it’s not something that should be taken for granted. These men and women protect those opportunities for us and young men need to understand that.
“I think the greatest job in the world is playing in the NFL, and the second greatest is being able to coach in the NFL. But see these folks, it puts everything in perspective. It’s our livelihood, but it is a game. What these men and women are doing is not a game. It is very real life.”
The fans spent their time checking out the players β Cassel was easily the most popular β while the guys in the red shirts were checking out the aircraft parked on the tarmac. Next to the B-2 were an A-10 Thunderbolt and an Apache Attack Helicopter. Flight personnel were on hand to discuss whatever aspects of the planes and helicopters that wasn’t classified information. Video and photos were not allowed at the rear of either airplane.
The Chiefs will return to the practice field on Thursday for their final practice of the week before enjoying a long holiday weekend.