On Sunday, the Colts will honor those who have served the United States of America through military service. From owner Jim Irsay's twitter account:
This Sunday is our "SALUTE TO SERVICE!" I'm asking vets to stand and be recognized in 1st qtr. U.S. Air Force Band at halftime n more— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) November 8, 2013
The Colts are in a unique position in that someone who served two years in the Army is currently part of their organization and on their practice squad.
Josh McNary is a linebacker out of Army, where he played college football. Per his Colts.com bio, during his time there (46 games played), he racked up 195 tackles (49 for loss), 28 sacks, 9 passes defended, forced five fumbles and recovered three fumbles. He graduated as their career leader in both sacks and tackles for loss and was the first and only player in their history to notch multiple double-digit sack seasons, incluidng a single season record 12.5 in 2009. He was also, per his bio, "honored with the 2011 East-West Shrine Game Pat Tillman Award, given to the player who best exemplifies character, intelligence, sportsmanship and service."
He served two years in the Army after graduating and, as Mike Wells recounts in this recent piece for ESPN:
"Indianapolis Colts linebacker Josh McNary was all set to be stationed in Germany as part of his two-year active service commitment with the U.S. Army. Making a move like that would have ended any last hope of the former Army linebacker making a run at the NFL.
"But for some reason, one McNary doesn't know, his orders were canceled and he was stationed at Ft. Hood, an Army base in Killeen, Texas.
"McNary, a lieutenant in the Army, heard last December that the super regional combine would be at Cowboys Stadium in April. He figured why not take a final shot at playing in the NFL."
He went to the combine and gave it a shot. The Colts were impressed enough that they signed him. He was late arriving to training camp due to the fact that he had to finish his military commitment, but once he got there he quickly got up to speed and really impressed me in limited work on the field. I was getting really excited to watch this guy and thought he might make the 53-man roster. One of my media colleagues pointed out one day in particular to watch McNary closely. I did, and I was impressed. He got off a block on one side of the line, switched directions as the play went to the other side and impressively chased down the ball carrier. Before he got there, however, he went down injured, and as a result he missed the first preseason game just days later.
He was released during cuts in training camp but was signed to the Colts' practice squad, where he remains today. I really liked what I saw from him in the short time I saw him on the field, and hopefully he is continuing to improve and get acclimated to playing football once again. Colts.com's Craig Kelly gave a vague update on him a little bit back in his weekly mailbag when asked about McNary and Daniel Adongo, but it's the only real update we have gotten (since practice squad players are rarely seen):
"Both Josh and Daniel are doing well, getting adapted to the culture and learning roles. Daniel is working at the ‘rush' position, while we have Josh playing the ‘will' linebacker."
Hopefully we'll see him on the field for the Colts next year, and hopefully he continues to impress not just me this time but that he gets the chance to impress others in a game as well. But for now, let's not forget the fact that Josh McNary is still on the team's practice squad and that he just completed two years of military service.
As the Colts honor veterans at the game Sunday, let's not forget Josh McNary, and I'd just like to publicly thank Josh McNary for his dedication and service to our country. Some things are bigger than football - although hopefully McNary will continue to succeed and improve at that, too.