NFL Hall of Famers Sign Jerseys, Throw Passes at Israel’s New Football Stadium
A group of National Football League Hall of Famers interacted with fans and threw some passes on Sunday at the new Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem, Israel21C reported.
The 18 former NFL players — who were joined by family members and friends — signed jerseys and footballs, and posed for selfies with the mostly American expatriate fans during day five of their weeklong visit to Israel, which is being led by New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker. Several of the Hall of Famers also spoke about their thoughts on Israel in front of the 1,000 people in attendance at the facility named after Kraft, who donated $6 million for its construction.
“I hope our being here will inspire some Israeli kid who wants to be the first to come over to play in the NFL, because I do believe that’s possible,” said former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, who was joined on the trip by his wife.
Bettis added: “Being in Israel has changed our lives. Coming to Jerusalem, we had no idea what it was going to look like. We just stayed up talking about how incredible the city was, but even more important than that, the people. The resolve of the Jewish people resonated with me. Now we understand what it means to be a community, because that’s what it feels like here: one giant community who believes in each other and who works together for each other. It’s an amazing sight to see.”
Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach noted he saw similarities between team sports and Israeli resilience, according to Israel21C.
“In sports, it takes a lot of unspectacular preparation to get spectacular results and you have to just work at it, and it takes trust in your teammates,” he explained. “Sports has taught me a lot about the teamwork aspect and also the adversity. And there’s nobody more than the great people of Israel who understand that adversity reveals and prosperity conceals. You find out the best of people when times are tough.”
According to the Patriots website, the ex-players are in Israel to “experience the culture and history of Israel and participate in special football events showcasing the growth of the game in the country.”
The 18 Hall of Famers participating in the trip include Lem Barney, Jerome Bettis, Jim Brown, Cris Carter, Dave Casper, Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Joe Greene, Willie Lanier, Joe Montana, Andre Reed, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, John Stallworth, Roger Staubach, Andre Tippett, Aeneas Williams and Ron Yary.