As part of a group of NFL alumni, Randy first visited our troops in Kuwait and Baghdad in March of 2004. Early in 2005, he again travelled overseas to visit our troops in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, Kabul, Afghanistan and Qatar. Randy recently sent along these impressions to Jim Tressel and the Athletic Department:
“I was honored and deeply moved that all the men and women I encountered were thrilled that we were there visiting them. All the while, the pride and honor I felt in those soldiers’ presence was overwhelming. It was truly humbling as a former professional athlete to see first-hand the skill, dedication and discipline of our soldiers. They are truly our modern-day heroes and should be regarded as such by all.”
“Not only did my trip remind me of how indebted we all are to our soldiers, it renewed my sense of patriotism, sometimes taken for granted in our busy routine. I was profoundly reminded of this at 4:00am Monday, February 7th as I watched the Super Bowl with hundreds of troops. What better opportunity to bond with our soldiers and share my reverence than while watching football. To see our soldiers representing Bagram Air Base broadcast live on Fox coverage was a thrill I will never forget. To share a silent moment of remembrance for Pat Tillman and the rest of the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice was breathtaking. All these thoughts as I am sitting in this clam shell building halfway across the world, expressionless and in awe. As you can imagine, words cannot even begin to describe the depth of gratitude for our soldiers and honor that I had being in their presence.”
“Simply said, I consider it an honor, privilege and am personally thankful to represent The Ohio State University in showing gratitude to our troops for defending our freedoms. The smiling eyes and faces said it all as I gave the key chains and t-shirts to our soldiers. The troops were surprised by and very grateful for all the gifts. Thanks Coach (Tressel) to you, and The Ohio State University Athletic Department personally because, retrospectively, your presence and support through me was much appreciated by our troops in the Middle East. Thank you for your generosity and support to those men and women risking their lives for our freedom. God Bless America.”
Randy Gradishar was referred to by Woody Hayes as “the best linebacker I ever coached at Ohio State.” He was a two-time All-American and is considered one of the most versatile, mobile and complete linebackers ever to play college football. Gradishar was a three-year starter between 1971 and 1973 and recorded 320 total tackles. He finished sixth in the Heisman Trophy balloting as a senior and was the backbone of the 1973 defense, which recorded four shutouts and allowed just 64 points. After graduation, he played 10 years with the Denver Broncos. During his career, he was a seven-time Pro Bowler, the second most by any Bronco at the end of his career, and he also is the all-time leader in tackles for Denver with 1,958. He was inducted into the Academic All-America Hall of Fame in 1992. In December of 1998, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.