NASHVILLE, TN Feb. 4, 2008-While several NFL players headed to Arizona to watch the Super Bowl this weekend, Tennessee Titans tight end Ben Hartsock departed for Afghanistan to visit the troops. Hartsock will spend nine days traveling with the 2008 Super Sunday Tour of U.S. Army bases in Qatar and Afghanistan along with Jason Baker of the Carolina Panthers, Cooper Carlisle of the Oakland Raiders and two cheerleaders from the Cincinnati Bengals. On Sunday night, Ben and other NFL players watched the Super Bowl with soldiers overseas. Appearances as the U.S. Army bases include autograph sessions, tour of facilities and meet and greets with troops and base command.
Hartsock, an active participant in all of the team's community initiatives and endeavors, admitted that he was excited about the visit albeit a bit skeptical at first.
"I'm very excited about the opportunity to take this trip," said Hartsock. "At first, my wife Amy and I were a little apprehensive about the risks of entering a war zone, but after much prayer and discussion, it was an easy decision."
Hartsock's trip to Afghanistan became the third overseas appearance by a Titans player. In 2002, Eddie George visited with troops alongside Jerome Bettis and Commissioner Tagliabue and last spring, cornerback Nick Harper joined this group to make appearances with other NFL players.
Hartsock grew up on a family farm in Chillicothe, Ohio, where he learned work ethic and responsibility. Hartsock says that he applies that work ethic to every aspect in his life and it's a major factor for his success. During the off-season, Hartsock holds various community and fundraising efforts such as a golf scramble and charity auction that benefit high school students in his hometown with college scholarships. For his outstanding community efforts, Hartsock was named one of the Tennessee Titans 2007 Community All-Stars and this trip is one such example of his desire to give back.
"My wife made a great point that there are thousands of women who have husbands, sons, and brothers risking their lives every day," continued Hartsock. "The least we can do is to be willing to get out of our own comfort zone and be willing to enter their environment, spend some time learning about their lives as soldiers and hopefully give them some relief from their stressful reality. It's easy to say that *
*are the ones doing a good deed by visiting troops, but we need to keep the proper perspective here. I will be forever indebted to these men and women for the sacrifices they make for our country, and I feel privileged and humbled to have the chance to enter their environment."