Carolina Panthers coach John Fox, who has some military experience in his history, is shipping off to the Persian Gulf. Fox, Minnesota’s Brad Childress, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis and Philadelphia’s Andy Reid will join the NFL-USO Coaches Tour this summer, the league announced Sunday.
Exact dates and times aren’t being announced because of security reasons, but the coaches will spend several days visiting members of the United States military in the Persian Gulf.
“As a son of a Navy Seal, I grew up in a military family and know first-hand the sacrifices the men and women in our military make,” Fox said. “We get a lot of attention as players and coaches in the National Football League, but our service men and women are the heroes. They enable us to enjoy the freedom we have in our country and I look forward to this trip. I view the opportunity to spend time with our troops as a privilege.”
I remember sitting in the Mobile, Ala. Airport in early 2002 as he was about to fly to Charlotte to be announced as Carolina’s coach. I’m not sure how exactly the subject came up, but Fox started talking about his stepfather being a Seal during the Vietnam era and shortly after that.
Fox told a story about not truly realizing what his stepfather did until he came home early from school one day while his stepfather was home from a tour of duty. Fox said his stepfather and the family dog were out in the backyard doing the kind of military drills you sometimes see on television. I'll spare you the gory details.
Can’t remember Fox’s exact quote, but it was something along the lines of “that’s when I realized our 'family dog' also was a high-level soldier." I remember asking Fox if I could interview his stepfather for a story profiling the new Carolina coach and his upbringing. Fox politely said that wasn't possible because his stepfather didn't have government clearance to talk about his military days.