DENVER -- In partnership with their official military appreciation sponsor USAA, the Denver Broncos hosted 100 military personnel and their guests at the Summer Scrimmage Saturday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High.
The servicemen and women were provided with seats at midfield and before the practice were served food and drinks in an area just outside the Broncos’ tunnel.
Deanne Funkhouser, a military affairs representative for USAA, said that they invited members from all different installations.
“It gives them the opportunity to come out tonight, enjoy being with their families,” Funkhouser said. “A lot of them brought a child with them tonight also. My father was Navy and he was gone all the time. He was on submarines so you remember those moments that you have with your military parent. So it does give them time tonight to get away from the stress of their everyday life.”
Prior to the players taking the field, some of them stopped to sign autographs and take pictures the members of the military. Coaches and some former players also spoke with the some of the military personnel.
Capt. Robert Hanks, who teaches mathematics at the Air Force Academy, admitted that he was a Chiefs fan but was still excited about the opportunity to meet Peyton Manning. He brought his brother-in-law Chris Christiansen because he’s the “world’s biggest Broncos.”
“I saw the email come out for volunteers and I put my name in the hat, it was drawn and l’m just happy to be here,” Hanks said. “I’ve never been to anything like this where you can get autographs from people like Von Miller, Peyton Manning, John Elway. I’m just happy to be here with my brother-in-law Chris.”
Though he’s not a Broncos fan, he made note of an appreciation for the discipline exhibited by professional football players.
“Discipline is success in my book and that’s the military way," he said. "These guys, it’s a different type of discipline than ours, hitting the gym every day and getting through practice and repetitions but it’s all the same really.”
Funkhouse said that Saturday’s event was one of several planned leading up to the military appreciation game in November.
“This was a really good opportunity for us to show we much we appreciate them, for the Denver Broncos to show how much they appreciate the military,” Funkhouser said. “It was a good pairing because of USAA’s mission to provide services to the military and to take care of them financially.
“It’s just a good partnership for us to have with the Denver Broncos and with other teams in the NFL.”