View Full Version : NFL kickoff concert will pay tribute to military troops

09-05-03, 06:00 AM
NFL kickoff concert will pay tribute to military troops

12:38 a.m. September 4, 2003

WASHINGTON Twenty-five thousand military troops will be front and center at Thursday night's star-studded concert on the National Mall to kick off the NFL season.

The NFL originally approached the Pentagon to ask that 2,000 service men and women be present for the concert, featuring Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Good Charlotte, Mary J. Blige and Aretha Franklin. The Pentagon responded by promising many times that number, said NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy.

Besides saluting the start of the professional football season, the concert will be part of Operation Tribute to Freedom, a military effort to "help Americans express their support for the troops who are coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan," said Col. Dan Wolfe.

The program is also designed to create a strong bond between the military and citizens and underscore the message that the war on terrorism is constantly being fought, he said.

But commuters could be fighting a war on gridlock Thursday night as the start of the concert coincides with the evening rush. Numerous downtown Washington streets will be closed, and the District of Columbia Emergency Management Agency urged people to either leave work early or telecommute.

Spears, who has also performed in a Super Bowl halftime show, said she enjoys performing for football crowds.

"I like their energy and the enthusiasm," she said of football fans.

Franklin said her performance would be a tribute to her brother, who served 20 years as an Air Force navigator.

On the Net:

National Football League: www.nfl.com

Operation Tribute to Freedom: www.defenselink.mil/specials/tribute