View photos of players as they learn about who they'll be representing during Sunday's Salute to Service game.
CHARLOTTE -- To honor the memory of those who died while in service to our country, Panthers players will wear a decal with the initials of a fallen service member on their helmets Sunday when they face the Kansas City Chiefs at Bank of America Stadium.* *
During the game, the service members will be honored in a video tribute and their loved ones will be welcomed onto the field between the first and second quarters to receive a replica helmet with the decal, signed by their player. This marks the second consecutive season in which the Panthers have worn the initials of fallen service members.
"The men and women of the Armed Forces, and their families, embody the best of our country," said head coach Ron Rivera, who is the team's nominee for the league-wide Salute to Service Award. "We are grateful beyond measure for their service, commitment and sacrifice. It is a privilege to recognize all those who serve, and an honor to remember the legacy of our fallen service men and women."
On Wednesday, each player received a bio and picture of the service member they will honor. All fallen heroes have a connection to the Carolinas – they trained or deployed from a base in the Carolinas or were natives of the region. Recognized service members were identified and randomly paired with players with the help of the USO of North Carolina and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).
"With everything that these families have given up for us and for our freedom, I think it's important to know their story and really know who you representing," linebacker Thomas Davis said.
"It just puts everything in perspective," safety Kurt Coleman added. "You look at life and you understand what's important to you and the people that are out there fighting for you each and every day."
This special recognition is part of the Panthers' and the NFL's annual Salute to Service military appreciation campaign. Every year, the NFL and the NFL Players Association come together in honor of Veterans Day to celebrate and recognize members of the military as part of the league's Salute to Service.
Since 2011, nearly $10 million has been raised through Salute to Service to support the league's military appreciation non-profit partners, USO, Pat Tillman Foundation and Wounded Warrior Project. In honor of the men and women who serve our country, the NFL will again donate $1,000 for every point scored during the NFL's 32 Salute to Service games to the partners. The NFL donates 100 percent of proceeds from the sale of Salute to Service merchandise at retail and on NFL Auction to its military non-profit partners. The NFL does not profit from the sale or auction of Salute to Service merchandise.
The Panthers took part in several events for Salute to Service week. First, the team partnered with USO for a special high school football game in Fayateville:
Players spent time with servicemen during a Pros vs. GI Joes video game challenge. The following morning, head coach Ron Rivera delivered a message to veterans.
Learn about the life and legacy of Senior airman Bryce Powers, the fallen hero defensive end Kony Ealy will honor on Sunday.