In honor of Veterans Day, ESPN will recognize veterans and active members of the U.S. Armed Forces during its annual Veterans Week tribute which includes a week of programming and initiatives from Nov. 8-13.
Among the highlights is the SportsCenter Veterans Day Special Presented by USAA, airing on Thursday, Nov. 9, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN and airing again on Sunday, Nov. 12, at 12:30 p.m. (2 p.m. on the West Coast) on ABC. The 30-minute program will be hosted by SportsCenter anchor Michael Eaves with a focus on military-themed features from across the years of ESPN’s Veterans Week coverage. Additionally, First Take Salute to Service will pay tribute to each of the six branches of the military by showcasing content created by military personnel representing each branch.
“ESPN is proud to honor our veterans and their families for their incredible sacrifice and service to our country through our multi-platform storytelling,” said Kevin Martinez, ESPN vice president of Corporate Citizenship. “Through our collaborations and grants to veteran organizations, as well as our employee volunteer efforts, we strive to help veterans and their spouses build pathways to employment.”
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 Christian McCaffrey, Shaquille O’Neal, Nick Saban, Damian Lillard, Arike Ogunbowale, Dawn Staley, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow and Jalen Hurts.
ESPN’s “Veterans Week” will feature:
SportsCenter Special: Veterans Day Special Presented by USAA (Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. on ESPN, Nov. 12 at 12:30 p.m. on ABC (2 p.m. on the West Coast)
The show, hosted by SportsCenter’s Michael Eaves, will include feature storytelling, integrations focused on military themed features from across the years of ESPN’s Veterans Week coverage.
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(2 p.m. on the West Coast)
Among the content that will air in the program and appear on other ESPN platforms:
- Remembering the Black Lifesavers of Pea Island- The U.S. Coast Guard Academy football team wore Pea Island jerseys in 2021 to commemorate the Pea Island life-saving station. Pea Island Station, located on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, was the first station to be manned entirely by a Black keeper and crew. The great, great grandson of one of the keepers, Solomon Ashby III, is a junior football player at the USCGA. William C. Rhoden of Andscape
- Captain Amy Bauernschmidt Conversation – Julie Foudy sits down with Captain Amy Bauernschmidt, the first female captain of a United States Navy 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.
First Take Salute to Service (Nov. 9-10, 10 a.m. ET, ESPN)
On Nov. 9, First Take will recognize and honor the U.S. Marine Corps birthday (Nov. 10). The following day, the show will also honor each of the six branches of the military and will feature content from military members representing each branch.
Veterans Week on Other ESPN Platforms
SC Featured: The Return
The award-winning ESPN SC Featured film The Return will air 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.
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ESPN Daily Podcast
Tuesday, Nov. 7, ESPN Daily Podcast revisits Ryan McGee and 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.
The 2 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter on Thursday, Nov. 9, will include the announcement of the 12th 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.
ESPN Radio will air special features and welcome guests throughout the week across its studio lineup honoring military veterans and their families
During ACC Huddle on November 11 at 11 a.m. ET, a feature on Virginia kicker, Matt Ganyard will air.
At 34, Matt Ganyard, a kicker at the University of Virginia, became Division I football’s oldest player. After failing to make the roster in his undergraduate years, he graduated in 2011. However, his determination remained strong. Following over a decade of service in the Marines, he returned to Charlottesville, pursued graduate studies, and, in August, finally joined the Cavaliers’ team, realizing his football dreams.
As a part of SEC Network’s Veterans Week programming, Marty Smith, Jordan Rodgers and Roman Harper will join a US Army Reserves Blackhawk, flying over Kroger Field during a practice flyover for Saturday’s highly anticipated matchup between No. 8 Alabama and Kentucky.
This joint production will be featured on both SEC Nation Presented by Johnsonville and in game on Saturday, Nov. 11 at noon ET on ESPN.
Nov. 12 on Sunday NFL Countdown (10 a.m., ESPN), the three-hour NFL pregame show will feature The Flyover. This feature will provide fans with an inside look at the powerful moment and its tribute to soldiers, along with insight into the precise communication required for its execution.
The National Anthem will be shown live prior to the Monday Night Football game between the Denver Broncos and the Buffalo Bills on Nov. 13 (8 p.m., ESPN, ABC, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes). Throughout the broadcast, fans will hear anecdotes and stories from players and coaches who have special ties to the holiday.
In collaboration with ACC Network, College GameDay will share the story of University of Virginia kicker, Matt Ganyard. See above for details.
On November 10, the inspiring journey of U.S. Paralympic powerlifter Bobby Body, a veteran with an amputation, who transformed from a serviceman to a proud member of the U.S. Paralympic powerlifting team, will be explored. Readers will witness his incredible journey towards qualification for the upcoming Paris Games, a powerful narrative of service, sacrifice, and personal reinvention.
ESPN+ 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. 11 at noon ET.
All features showcased throughout Veterans Week will be made available, on-demand on ESPN+.
ESPN Social will be sharing content that will include throwbacks from the Armed Forces Classic Game, behind-the-scenes moments from the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills Monday Night Football Game, and more.
Additionally, ESPN Social will also showcase carousels dedicated to honoring athletes and sports figures who have served in the military.
ESPN Corporate Citizenship
In recognition of the sacrifices our military service members and veterans have made, The Walt Disney Company and ESPN are committed to supporting organizations dedicated to those that have served in uniform. Disney has hired more than 15,000 veterans since 2012 through Disney’s Heroes Work Here program, a company-wide initiative to hire, train and support returning veterans
ESPN also has teamed up with DAV to support veterans in finding careers, including sponsorship and engagement in career fairs and professional career development panels. Additionally, employees throughout the company are taking part in volunteer programs that benefit both active military members and veterans, from mentorship opportunities to food drives to participation in Veterans Day parades.