The former players and family members of players who died in the Vietnam War were invited to the National Football League’s annual “NFL Day in the Sun” ceremony on Tuesday.
Among the attendees were former NFL player Deion Sanders, who died Monday of a heart attack at age 43; his father, former New York Giants linebacker John Sanders; former Chicago Bears linebacker Jim McMahon; former Oakland Raiders cornerback Chris Borland; and former San Diego Chargers wide receiver Donte Stallworth, who passed away last month.
In addition, former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick was among the speakers, and former NFL running back LeGarrette Blount was among those who spoke about his own journey in a letter to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Tuesday, in which he said that his family “had a dream and it was not a dream for me, but a dream that could have been.”
He wrote:I had this dream that if you knew me as a person, you would love me as your best friend.
I wanted to be your friend.
And I loved you so much.
I loved that you had a voice in my heart.
But you loved me just the same.
I know that you would have loved my family.
I love you too.
I never wanted to forget you.
I didn’t want to go anywhere without you.
You have the best friend I ever had.
You are my best friend now.
You were my friend in the NFL, in the military, and now in the world.
Your courage and your strength will never be forgotten.
And as a family, we are grateful to all of you.
Your strength and your courage will never ever be forgotten and I’m so proud to have been a part of it all.
I love you.
You’re my heart and my soul.
And you are my inspiration.
I’m really, really sorry.
I want to thank all of the people who have given me a chance to say this, but I love my family more than anything.
You have been so good to me.
I appreciate all of it.
And I want to say thank you to the NFL.
We appreciate the tremendous support you’ve given us and to the fans, players and families who have been supportive.
I know this is not easy, but we are here and we’re going to keep fighting.
And we will keep winning.
We are not done.
We have a long way to go.
But I know it is possible.
And so, to the future of our country, I ask you to keep the faith.
We will prevail.
And to the American people, I have the greatest love for all of us, including myself, and I will always be grateful to you, and the NFL for making this possible.
I am proud of the country we live in, and for the great work that you do every single day.