Super Bowl Players Reach Out to Military

  • Published
  • By George A. Smith
  • AFN Broadcast Center

The U.S. military was in players’ thoughts the week before Super Bowl LII. 

One of the 44 people voicing support of the nation’s warriors before the Super Bowl was New England Patriot quarterback Tom Brady, who granted the American Forces Network (AFN) Broadcast Center’s Marisa Gaona a rare exclusive. 

“At one time I gave up trying to get an interview with Brady because I was buried behind a bunch of tall guys, and I’m pretty short,” Gaona laughed.   “But I circled back and told someone in security I worked for the military and would like a shout out to the troops.” 

It worked.  Brady gave a shout out to the troops in 15 seconds, while positioned well away from the eyes of other media who would have also loved a one-on-one with the quarterback.

That message from Brady reached 32,196 people on the MyAFN Facebook page, with 784 comments and reactions and 13,135 views.

Many of the messages from the football players were personal.  Hall of Famer Mike Hanes, formerly with the Oakland Raiders, shared how he was stationed overseas with his Dad, used to watch AFN, and knew what it meant to the troops.  His father-in-law also served overseas in the military and watched AFN.

The New England Patriot long snapper Joe Cardona’s connection to the military is a direct one.  He’s a U.S. Naval Reserve Officer.   For Super Bowl sideline reporter, Michele Tafoya, it was clear from the words she chose and how she said them that she was sharing feelings, not reading a script. 

Gaona said one key to her success is that she made it clear she was working for the U.S. military.  It was also helpful she wore an American Forces Network hat that helped her pop out from the crush of reporters battling for quotes.

Gaona successfully locked in comments from a multitude of stars, including Chris Hogan and Danny Amendola of the Patriots and Malcom Jenkins and Jason Kelce of the Eagles.  She leveraged new Google-Suite platforms and drive storage with Marketing and Promotion team mates, who uploaded, edited and posted messages on social media and aired messages on AFN TV. 

Best of all, social media interactions with viewers from places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Germany, Japan and Antarctica made it clear the overseas military was watching the game on AFN, loving it and talking about the experience!