ESPN Pays Homage to Veterans, Active U.S. Armed Forces with Nov. 9-14 Veterans Week Initiatives

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ESPN Pays Homage to Veterans, Active U.S. Armed Forces with Nov. 9-14 Veterans Week Initiatives

With its annual Veterans Week tribute, ESPN will salute veterans and active members of the U.S. Armed Forces with a week of programming and initiatives Nov. 9-14 in recognition of Veterans Day.

Among the highlights is the annual Peraton Armed Forces Classic which will showcase the Gonzaga and Michigan State basketball matchup from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego. On Nov. 11 at 6:30 p.m. ET, Dan Shulman and analyst Jay Bilas will call the game from the flight deck with reporter Chris Spatola, a decorated captain in the U.S. Army who was a four-year starting guard at West Point before his active duty service from 2002-07. SportsCenter will also have live pre-game content from the USS Abraham Lincoln during the 6 p.m. airing on Nov. 11.

Other moments from the week will include the SportsCenter Veterans Day Special Presented by USAA, airing on Nov. 13 at 12:30 p.m. on ABC and on ESPN later that day at 4:30 p.m. The 30-minute program will be hosted by SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves with the background of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Additionally, First Take’s Salute to Service will recognize and honor the U.S. Marines Corp on Thursday, Nov. 10. The show will continue its Veterans Day tributes on Nov. 11 by honoring Veterans Day stories of women across military branches.

“At ESPN, we are so proud to honor America’s veterans for their sacrifice and service to our country,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “Through our multi-platform storytelling, volunteer efforts and hiring practices, we are deeply committed to supporting those that have given so much to protect our freedoms.”

USAA is continuing its longstanding presenting sponsorship of ESPN’s America’s Heroes activation and many well-known athletes, coaches and celebrities will provide daily “shout-outs” sponsored by USAA to members of the military within ESPN programming. The tributes will appear on SportsCenter, First Take and other ESPN platforms. Among the participants will be Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, Will Anderson Jr., Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield, Dawn Staley, Aaron Rogers, Niele Ivey, Jimmy Butler, Draymond Green, Jocelyn Willoughby, Aaron Judge, Arike Ogunbowale, Nick Saban, Jimbo Fisher, Ryan Day, Kara Lawson, Christian McCaffrey, Mike Krzyzewski and Kirby Smart.

ESPN’s “Veterans Week” will feature:

2022 Peraton Armed Forces Classic (Nov. 11, 6:30 p.m., ESPN)

Live from the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego harbor, ESPN will showcase the men’s college basketball matchup between No. 2 Gonzaga and Michigan State. Dan Shulman and analyst Jay Bilas will call the game from the flight deck with reporter Chris Spatola, a decorated captain in the U.S. Army who was a four-year starting guard at West Point before his active duty service from 2002-07. ESPN Events is the organizer of the Armed Forces Classic.

SportsCenter Special: Veterans Day Special Presented by USAA (Nov. 13 at 12:30 p.m.  on ABC; 4:30 p.m.  on ESPN)

The USS Abraham Lincoln will serve as a backdrop for the 30-minute special. The show, hosted by SportsCenter’s Michael Eaves, will include feature storytelling, integrations from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier in the San Diego harbor.

Among the content that will air in the program and appear on other ESPN platforms:

  • Captain Amy Bauernschmidt Conversation – Julie Foudy sits down with Captain Amy Bauernschmidt, the first female captain of a United States Aircraft Carrier
  • Marine Sargent Aaron Stilton Feature- Retired Marine Sargent Aaron Stilton was shot in the face during combat. He underwent more than 50 surgeries to repair his physical appearance. The game of golf helped save his life and provided him an outlet to give back. Marty Smith spent the day with Stilton to learn about his journey.
  • Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery Essay- Marty Smith reflects on the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, located in San Diego, and provides a reminder of the countless veterans represented there
  • Tattoos in the Military – Tattoos signify many things and tell different stories about the experiences of the men and women in all branches of the military.
  • Top Gun San Diego – San Diego is home to many Top Gun landmarks and attractions.  With the global popularity of Top Gun Maverick, we visited some of the film’s original landmarks around San Diego
  • STOPS/CTM – The feature takes a deep dive into Hyper-Realistic training environments that resemble actual scene conditions and offers participants “Stress Inoculation.” SC Featured takes a first-hand look at this intense training and learns how it prepares soldiers for actual combat situations.

First Take Salute to Service (Nov. 10, 10:00 a.m., ESPN; Nov. 11, 10:00 a.m., ESPN)

First Take will recognize and honor the U.S. Marines Corp birthday. The show will also honor Veterans Day with stories of women across the military branches.

Veterans Week on Other ESPN Platforms

SC Featured: The Return

The award-winning ESPN SC Featured film The Return will air on Nov. 11 at midnight on ESPNEWS during Veterans Week. In the film, former Notre Dame and Pittsburgh Steelers running back Rocky Bleier returns to Vietnam for the first time since he was wounded in combat there 50 years earlier. Bleier walks in the same valley where his U.S. Army company was ambushed on August 20, 1969.

ESPN Daily Podcast  

This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, Ryan McGee will join Pablo Torre and the ESPN Daily Podcast to tell the story of Battlefields to Ballfields, an organization founded in 2017 by former VP of NFL Officiating, and current rules analyst, Mike Pereira which helps veterans reintegrate into their community through officiating. The organization provides structure, purpose, and a support system that many veterans need upon returning to civilian life.

Outside the Lines

On Nov. 11, Outside the Lines will feature a segment on Battlefields to Ballfields during the noon edition of SportsCenter. Ryan McGee reports.

SportsCenter

The noon ET edition of SportsCenter on Friday, Nov. 11, will include the announcement of the 11th recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award. Coordinated by ESPN Events’ Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) is presented annually to an individual and/or group with a military background that has an impact within the realm of college football.

Secretaries’ Cup Football Game

ESPN3 will televise the annual Secretaries’ Cup football game between the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday, Nov. 12, at noon ET.

ESPN Radio

On Nov. 9, West Point graduate and former Amy Ranger, Alejandro Villanueva will be joining Bart & Hahn (12-3 p.m. ET)Villanueva, who was an Offensive Tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers, received a Bronze Star medal for his service. ESPN Radio will also air special shout-out features throughout the week across its studio lineup honoring military veterans and their families

ESPN Radio will also broadcast the Armed Forces Classic on Nov. 11. Kevin Winter and former Boston College star, Malcolm Huckaby will be calling the game from the booth

ACC Network

During the annual Veterans Week initiative,  ACC Network will share the stories of veterans and their families with connections to the ACC and its member institutions – including WWII veteran Joseph Collie, a long-time Duke super-fan, as well as Lawrence Joel, for whom the Wake Forest basketball arena is named. Joel is the only Winston-Salem, N.C., native ever to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. The Korean and Vietnam War veteran also received the Silver Star.

SEC Network

SEC Network will honor veterans throughout the week during SECN studio and feature programming, hearing from coaches and student-athletes about what Veterans Day means to them, including those with family members who have served. Additionally, Marty Smith will share the story of Auburn walk-on linebacker Jonathan LeGrand, who served in the U.S. Marines for five years before leading Auburn’s club men’s rugby team to a national championship and accomplishing his dream of playing football for the Auburn Tigers. The feature will air in the Saturday, Nov. 12 episode of SEC Nation (10 a.m. ET).

NFL Programming

For Sunday NFL Countdown on Nov.13, ESPN’s NFL programming will show a special edition of You Got Mossed that will include special shout-outs from NFL players to veterans and current members of the U.S. Military.

For the Monday Night Football game on Nov. 14 between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Commanders, the Monday Night Countdown crew will feature two veterans in the opening tease of the game. Additionally, the telecast will showcase the anthem prior to the game and anecdotes about players and coaches from each team that have special ties to the holiday.

Also, A Jersey’s Journey, a feature will air on Kimberly Culverhouse-Steadman, a USO staff member who was on the ground in Afghanistan in August 2021 when the US evacuated the country. During evacuation, Kimberly decided to leave her personal items behind but the one thing she didn’t forget was the jersey of Pat Tillman.

College GameDay and College Football

College GameDay will share the story of a Ray Ruschel a 49-year-old Army Veteran who now finds himself playing for and contributing to a college football team, all while taking classes and working an overnight shift at a sugar beet factory.

ABC will televise the matchup between Notre Dame and Navy on Saturday, Nov. 12, at noon ET.

ESPN+

All features showcased throughout Veterans Week will be made available, on-demand on ESPN+.

ESPN Social

Instagram carousels will be featured on ESPN’s accounts to honor athletes and sports figures who served in the military.

ESPN Corporate Citizenship

In recognition of the sacrifices our active military and veterans have made, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to supporting organizations dedicated to those that have served. As part of Veterans Week, ESPN employees are marching in Veterans Day parades, helping to build a new home for a veteran in the Hartford area through Habitat for Humanity and assembling care packages. Disney has hired over 10,000 veterans since 2012 through Disney’s Heroes Work Here program, a company-wide initiative to hire, train and support returning veterans.

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Media contacts: [email protected] and [email protected]

Andy Hall

I’m part of a team that handles PR/Communications for SportsCenter, including the SC Featured brand, the E60 program, and ESPN’s news platforms. In addition, I’m the PR contact for ESPN’s Formula 1 coverage and golf majors (the Masters and PGA Championship). I’m based in Daytona Beach, Fla., and have been with ESPN since 2006.
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