New Orleans Saints TE Jimmy Graham is one of three NFL players that will travel on a weeklong tour throughout the Middle East to visit U.S. troops at military bases.
Graham, Miami Dolphins kicker Brandon Fields and Washington Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon will travel to the Middle East to spend time with service members. This tour marks the first NFL-USO tour abroad for all of them.
The NFL and USO have worked together to organize overseas morale-building visits for 48 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia.
Players participating in this year's NFL-USO Tour:
*JIMMY GRAHAM, New Orleans Saints:
Graham was selected as Saints third round draft choice in 2010, and in just four seasons, he has become one of QB Drew Brees' favorite targets. In only 62 games with 36 starts, Graham has posted career totals of 301 catches for 3,863 yards with 41 touchdowns and has already shattered the club's receiving record for a tight end. Graham, who played four years of basketball and one year of football at the University of Miami (Fla.), has recorded 270 receptions for 3,507 yards with 36 touchdowns the past three seasons, ranking him fourth in the NFL in receiving, first at his position. In 2013, he led the Saints in receiving for the third consecutive season with 86 grabs for 1,215 yards with a club-record and NFL-best 16 touchdown grabs, leading NFL tight ends in all major statistical categories. Graham was voted an Associated Press first-team All-Pro and selected to play in the Pro Bowl, his second appearance in the league's all-star game..
Graham was featured in a USA Network television program called "NFL Characters Unite", where he mentored a New Orleans teenager in need. He has also hosted a youth football camp at Tulane University and is an avid supporter of Boys Town Louisiana. Graham also supports the Second Harvest Food Bank of Greater New Orleans and the Toys for Tots program. He also supports the Volunteers of America Foster Kids Programs.
*BRANDON FIELDS, Miami Dolphins:
Brandon Fields has been an integral part of the Dolphins ever since he was selected by the team during the 2007 NFL Draft. A 2014 NFL Pro Bowl and AP All-Pro second team selection, he became just the second Miami punter to be named to the Pro Bowl. Fields currently ranks first in Dolphins' history in both highest gross punting average (46.8) and net punting average (39.3). His career average of 46.8 yards per punt has the seven-year veteran ranked third all-time in NFL history. He completed the 2013 season ranked second in both the AFC and the NFL in punting and was first in the AFC and second in the NFL in net punting.
For his tireless work within the community, Fields was named the recipient of the Dolphins' 2012 Nat Moore Community Service Award and has twice been named the team's Walter Payton Man of the Year award nominee (2012, 2013). His off the field work includes participating in the Dolphins Foundation Fishing and Golf Tournaments as well as the team's annual turkey giveaway and the "Lift Up America Food Giveaway" event. He has helped purchase toys and meals for the holidays and helped serve food to the homeless. In addition to participating in team's events, Fields, along with his wife Katie, established the Brandon and Katie Fields Youth Fitness Fund in 2010. With a focus on health, fitness and a positive attitude, the fund promotes physical activity and good health to children in the community.
*PIERRE GARÇON, Washington Redskins:
Garçon, a tenacious blocker and explosive receiving threat, signed with the Redskins as an unrestricted free agent in March, 2012, becoming one of Washington's premier signings in its 2012 free agency class. Garçon became a key component of the Redskins' offense in 2012, leading the team to a 9-1 record in games in which he played, amassing 633 receiving yards in just 10 games. Garçon finished the 2012 season having played in 68 regular season games with 53 starts, totaling 232 receptions for 3,152 yards and 20 touchdowns. In 2013, Garçon broke Art Monk's team record for receptions in a season, posting a career high 113 receptions for 1,346 receiving yards and five touchdown grabs. Garçon has appeared in five postseason games, starting all five and posting 30 career postseason receptions for 413 yards with three touchdowns.
Garçon's work off the field includes founding the Pierre Garçon Helping Hands Foundation, which provides resources for Haitians affected by the January 2010 earthquake. He has flown to Haiti on several mission trips and worked with other charitable organizations to assist the region. During the 2013 offseason, he hosted a charity event that raised more than $30,000 for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington.
"It's an honor to go over and visit the troops in their environment, not only to see how they're doing but also to appreciate what they're doing to keep us safe back in America.", said Garçon . "I'm so proud to be a part of this event and to be able to thank the real heroes in person."