That was the players."
Redskins head coach Jay Gruden wanted none of the credit from what was a incredible moment at FedExField prior to Monday night's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
A day after the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, members of the Washington Redskins made a stirring tribute to the nation's military members that were on-hand to hold a giant American flag during the national anthem. With all of the flag holders in place, the anthem began, and the Redskins players stepped forward from the sideline to help hold the flag – side-by-side with members of the U.S. armed forces.
Members of the Steelers joined on the opposite side of the field, helping to hold the flag in unity with the soldiers.
It was a special night of honoring the military at FedExField as Rob O'Neill, who is a veteran of 400 combat missions and has been awarded two silver stars and four bronze stars among his more than 50 decorations, was also on hand as an honorary captain alongside former Redskins receiver Roy Jefferson.
"It was awesome, I tell you what. There was a bright spot," Gruden said. "The fans came out in a big way, and the military presentation, Rob O'Neill, that gives you goose bumps all the way. The way the players took advantage, took part in it. That was fun to watch."
The ESPN broadcast of Monday Night Football also joined in, showing the players and coaches on the field that served, including Redskins special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica and Steelers left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva.
Kotwica served eight years in the U.S. Army, including tours in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Korea and Iraq. Kotwica has been awarded with the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Bronze Star.
Prior to joining the Steelers, Villanueva served three tours of duty in Afghanistan. He also was awarded with the Bronze Star.