Buffalo Bills rookies toured the area yesterday, traveling from Niagara Falls to New Era Cap to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park to the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum.
The 18 rookies arrived in a bus designed with especially large seats suited for a group of large men.
They had a chance to see the ships and military artifacts and the future site of a memorial to 70 area residents killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Part of the thing we do in Western New York, is we're a community, we're a team and the veterans are a community and a team. So, we appreciate you coming down and to see what some of our team members have done," said Roger Woodworth, president of the Veterans One-Stop Center of Western New York.
"Everybody standing here knows about doing something that's bigger than themselves. So you're all familiar with being part of a team, being part of a community. None of you would be here if you weren't part of a team."
The rookies were told that 28 NFL players served in the military in the Vietnam war. Former Buffalo Bills player Bob Kalsu was the only NFL player to die in Vietnam.
"I definitely understand what it takes to put other people before yourself," said former UB defensive tackle Colby Way whose late father served in Vietnam. "We just can't do anything but thank them (veterans) because it's an amazing thing that they do."
Way says he wants to come back, perhaps with other players, to spend some time going into the ships at the Naval Park.
Rookie defensive Tackle Damien Jacobs say says he liked the tour because it gave him a chance to see the area.
"I think it's good to be able to get out and see stuff and be aware of the environment that you live in. It's my first time being able to get out and see anything besides Orchard Park," Jacobs said.