USAA Increases NFL Presence With "Salute To Service" Initiative
Insurer USAA, the NFL’s official military appreciation sponsor, is "activating heavily around the Salute to Service initiative, with sponsored tie-ins at 16 NFL stadiums, up from six last year," according to Terry Lefton in this week's SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL. Activation includes "eight card stunts where fans will flip cards thanking vets; distribution of thousands of branded wrist bands; a 'million fan salute' digital campaign; team events involving local military members; and the continuation of the Salute to Service award, which honors outstanding efforts in supporting the military community." USAA "became a league sponsor in" August '11. The NFL is "donating $100 for every point scored during 32 designated Military Appreciation games to either the Pat Tillman Foundation, the USO or the Wounded Warrior Project." The league also is "integrating on-field elements, beginning with" last Thursday’s Chiefs-Chargers game. End zones will be "branded with 'Salute to Service' stenciled in the back, and players will wear helmet stickers supporting various military units." Wilson footballs will have a "special NFL shield with a 'camo' ribbon, as will end-zone pylons, goal posts and the Gatorade-emblazoned sideline towels." There also will be "Nike and Under Armour camo gloves." The league is "looking to develop the military salute as an annual initiative, similar to its pink effort" for breast cancer awareness in October (SPORTSBUSINESS JOURNAL, 11/5 issue).
STARS & STRIPES FOREVER: In Newark, Tom Luicci noted the Rutgers Univ. football team in its home game against Army Saturday will use "flag-themed headgear reserved for playing against military academies." The design is "similar to what was done for the first time last year against the Black Knights -- except it is now set against the new, silver metallic helmets Rutgers wears." The block "R" on the side is "filled in with stars and stripes." There also is a "strip down the middle of the helmet with the same look." The helmet "pops with a distinctive splash of red, white and blue." Rutgers DT Scott Vallone said, "I was trying to get stars and stripes for the numbers, too" (Newark STAR-LEDGER, 11/6).