“You see guys in there, some of them missing limbs and some pretty beat up,” Reid said. “These guys couldn't wait to go back out there, if they could, and fight to protect our country. It's quite an amazing thing.”
Reid, Panthers coach John Fox, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis and former Eagles coordinator and current Vikings head coach Brad Childress met with hundreds of soldiers at the air field north of Kabul over the Fourth of July weekend.
The NFL-USO coaches tour is in its second year. Last year, four other coaches visited troops in Iraq.
Watching a war unfold on TV half a world away and then suddenly being with the soldiers doing the fighting was an eye-opening experience for the coaches.
“I'm not sure that in the States we really have a full grasp of what they are doing over there,” Reid said in a phone interview Sunday night from Ramstein Air Base in Germany as the group made its way back to the U.S. “Their desire is quite incredible.”
Reid and his fellow coaches spent more than two days at Bagram, and a few days in Germany meeting with the troops, many just itching to talk a little football.
“The Eagles fans, they wanted know why Donovan is a Redskin,” Reid said.
The reference, of course, was the trade that sent quarterback Donovan McNabb from the Eagles to the division rival Redskins.
“I told them that's how the NFL works now,” Reid said. “I also said that Donovan's a great person and I loved being with him.”
Even after such a short stay, Reid picked up on how the troops, not just the Americans, are trying to work with the people of Afghanistan.
“There's a fellowship among them, and they are from different countries,” Reid said. “They are making people aware that we're not just the almighty coming in to change their way, but are trying to help them in positive way. And that teamwork is a neat thing to see.”
It was hard to tell who was more overwhelmed during the tour, the coaches or the soldiers.
“We're thanking them and they're thanking us and it's who can thank each other the hardest,” Fox said.
Added Reid: “As happy as we were to see them, they were for us. I'm not sure we probably didn't get more out of it than they did. But they sure were happy and welcomed us in.”
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