Soldiers from the Milwaukee-based 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade headquarters received a surprise visit from six green Bay Packers Saturday (April 14) as part of the team’s annual tailgate tour.

The tour, now in its 13th year, gives back to those who support the Packers and allows the players to meet with their fans, according to Green Bay Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, who was also on the tour. Joining Murphy were current players Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez and Ty Montgomery, along with Packers alumni Antonio Freeman, Bubba Franks and Rob Davis.

In addition to thanking Soldiers for their service, Murphy said there are a lot of similarities between the NFL and the military.

"The NFL is a brotherhood too," Murphy said. "Players are encouraged to look out for their teammates."

Sgt. 1st Class Lucas Kramer, an operations noncommissioned officer, asked their thoughts on children playing the game.

"There's a lot to learn from football," Franks said. "The life lessons you learn in football are valuable. The team aspect is like the military because you have to rely on your team to work together.

"There's a lot of growing up to do through football," Franks added.

Murphy went on to explain the ways in which the NFL is continuously trying to make the game safer. He said the helmets are getting better, and new rules are beginning to be put in place for the safety of everyone who plays.

Murphy and the players took the time to personally thank the Soldiers, share Packers memorabilia and sign autographs.

Kramer said, "My oldest and I are Packers fans, and it means a lot to us to have Packer memorabilia."

The 157th was the last stop on the four-day tour, and the Soldiers said they were grateful for the visit.

"Coming here shows they are very supportive and appreciative of the military in general," said Joe Theelkeegan, an operations noncommissioned officer with the MEB, "While I have received many [military] coins, it means something more coming from Blake Martinez. Someone outside the military that appreciates our work as much as our higher level leadership does."

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