NEW YORK, NY – Several SEALs from the Naval Special Warfare Command and sailors from the Navy Recruiting Command attended the 77th annual NFL Draft, April 26 – 28, at the Radio City Music Hall in New York City as part of a community outreach program.
The event, officially called the “NFL Player Selection Meeting,” is sponsored by the National Football League, who invited Special Operators to attend and announce the third round draft pick.
“This is a unique opportunity and it gives credibility to the Naval Special Warfare community as a force made up of athletic members of the military,” said Capt. (SEAL) Duncan Smith, director, Naval Special Warfare Recruiting Directorate. “It gives the coaches, athletes and families an opportunity to meet and talk to some of the active duty SEALs here tonight that would have never otherwise had the chance.”
The combines are an intense, four-day standardized physical and mental training camp attended by more than three hundred of the best college football players in hopes of one day playing in the NFL. SEALs and sailors from around the Fleet are attending NFL sponsored events to inform and educate these athletes about potential career opportunities in Navy special programs such as SEALs, diver, EOD, and others.
Master Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Shawn Johnson, a 23-year veteran who participated in several of the previous NFL scout combines this year, made the live announcement on national television.
“With the 85th pick in NFL 2012 draft, the Detroit Lions select Dwight Bentley, Corner Back, of Louisiana – Lafayette,” announced Johnson.
The 2012 NFL Draft pick announcement demonstrates the strong, on-going partnership the Navy, particularly the Naval Special Warfare community, has with professional organizations such as the National Football League.
“It was an honor and great opportunity to have had the chance to make the draft pick announcement,” said Johnson. “This is one of those rare, once-in-a-life-time moments. All of these athletes possess many of the same qualities necessary to be successful as a Navy SEAL. They’re obviously physically fit but they’re also mentally tough and self-disciplined and we’re [NSW] always interested in people who have these certain qualities and are team-oriented especially from diverse ethnic backgrounds to enhance our operational capability and tonight was a great chance to publicly make that connection.”
The eight SEALs and sailors from the Navy Recruiting Command marched on stage to an enthusiastic, standing ovation from the fans and guests in attendance at the Radio City Music Hall.
Members of the NFL organization were equally appreciative and offered the sailors a personal tour of the NFL Headquarters during the three-day NFL Draft Pick.
“Having two sons currently attending the U.S. Naval Academy, I’m obviously a little biased, but this is very special for the NFL too and were fortunate and excited to be able to have such professional and dedicated athletes as the SEALs here tonight,” said Ron Hill, Vice President of Football Operations for the National Football League.