NFL Players Who Served In U.S Armed ForcesGrit, determination, and sacrifice are all characteristics of being an athlete. These same characteristics go hand-in-hand with being a service member. But did you know that some of the greatest athletes in the nation have devoted parts of their lives to serving in the military?

This serves as an important reminder that not only as sports fans but as citizens of the United States, we honor what these athletes have contributed to the safety of our country. They are our heroes on the field and off the field. Some of them making the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

So, here is a look at some NFL players who have served in the United States Armed Forces:

Pat Tillman

Military Makeover Spotlights: NFL Players Who Served in U.S Armed Forces

Credit: DoD – US Army website images collection, Public Domain

What could Pat Tillman’s career look like? This was a thought many fans have had for years. Tillman played in the NFL for three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. His career wasn’t cut short due to normal reasons, but because he enlisted in the U.S. Armed Forces after the September 11 attacks. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002-2004, until he was killed in combat. Tillman was awarded the Purple Heart and Silver Star, his legacy is continued at the ESPY awards annually, where an individual is presented with the Pat Tillman Award for Service. The recipient is a person with a strong connection to sports who honors those who have served our country.

Alejandro Villanueva

Credit: All-Pro Reels

Villanueva played seven years in the NFL after completing three tours as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan. He was on active duty from 2010-2014 and was awarded Bronze Star Medal. Following his service, Villanueva signed with the Steelers to their practice squad as an offensive lineman. He was the first U.S. Military Academy graduate to make the Pro Bowl since Glen Davis in 1951.

Chuck Bednarik

Credit: Public Domain

One of the most feared linebackers in the NFL once served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Chuck “Concrete Charlie” Bednarik served during World War II. From 1949 to 1962, he was a linebacker for the Eagles and won two NFL championships. Bednarik joined the military out of high school and flew on over 30 combat missions over Germany. He was inducted into the National Football Hall of Fame in 1969.

Chad Hennings

Credit: US Air Force

Hennings played for the Dallas Cowboys as an offensive lineman from 1992-2000 but also served in the U.S. Air Force. Hennings is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy where he was a dominant defensive tackle. He was drafted in 1988 but wouldn’t play in the NFL until 1992 due to his service in the U.S. Air Force. He was deployed twice to the Persian Gulf in 1991 and was part of a mission to help provide relief to Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq. He was also awarded the Air Force Achievement Medal. Hennings played nine seasons with the Cowboys and won three Super Bowls.

Countless other NFL players served in the U.S. Armed Forces. For a full list click here.