Four NFL coaches embark on an NFL-USO Coaches Tour this summer. Texans Head Coach GARY KUBIAK, Cardinals Head Coach KEN WHISENHUNT, former New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts Head Coach JIM E. MORA, and his son, former NFL coach and current NFL Network analyst JIM L. MORA will soon travel to meet and greet members of the U.S. military for several days in the Persian Gulf.
The NFL and USO have organized overseas morale-building visits for 45 years. In 1966, the NFL teamed with the USO and became the first sports organization to send a group of players to Vietnam and other parts of Asia to demonstrate the league’s support for America’s troops.
In the past four decades, NFL stars including TERRY BRADSHAW, LARRY CSONKA, FRANCO HARRIS, HOWIE LONG, DON MEREDITH, LYNN SWANN and JOHNNY UNITAS have visited service members on NFL-USO tours in locations such as Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and Somalia. In 2008, NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL joined players on a USO trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. This is the third annual NFL-USO Coaches Tour. In 2009 and 2010, BRAD CHILDRESS, TOM COUGHLIN, BILL COWHER, JEFF FISHER, JOHN FOX, JON GRUDEN, JOHN HARBAUGH, MARVIN LEWIS and ANDY REID took part in the tour.
Coaches participating in this year’s NFL-USO Coaches Tour:
GARY KUBIAK, HOUSTON TEXANS:
Gary Kubiak will enter his sixth season as head coach of the Houston Texans as the winningest head coach in franchise history with 37 career victories, including the three best seasons in team history from 2007-09. Highly productive offensive play has been a hallmark of Kubiak’s teams, with the Texans ranking among the NFL’s top five offenses in each of the last three seasons. Since he took hold of the reins of the Texans in 2006, he is the only NFL head coach to produce a rushing, receiving and passing yardage leader.
Kubiak has been active in his support of U.S. military services many years, serving as celebrity spokesperson for Impact A Hero, a non-profit organization serving military families, and participating in the Seventh Annual Impact A Hero 5k Run, Walk and Wheel this month.
In addition to his individual efforts, Kubiak has also supported U.S. military services with the Texans. For the last two years, the Texans have honored service members with their Salute to the Military Week.
"I am very excited and feel so fortunate to be invited," said Kubiak. "To get this opportunity is so flattering. Just to have the chance to say thanks and take a little bit of the Texans over there with me will be special."
JIM E. MORA, FORMER NFL HEAD COACH
Jim E. Mora was head coach of the New Orleans Saints and Indianapolis Colts, as well as the USFL's Philadelphia/Baltimore Stars. Hired by the Saints following the 1985 season, Mora turned the tide of the franchise and achieved a 12-3 mark in 1987, winning NFL Coach of the Year honors from the Associated Press, The Sporting News, and Pro Football Weekly. In 1998, following four playoff appearances in nine seasons with the Saints, Mora became head coach of the Indianapolis Colts and guided the Colts to two playoff appearances in four years.
Mora, a former Marine himself who served active duty from 1957-1960, concluded his coaching career following the 2001 season and in 2003 became an on-air analyst for the NFL Network. Now fully retired, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Connie, their three sons and 10 grandchildren.
"As a former Marine officer, I have the utmost appreciation and respect for what our military personnel go through to preserve our country's freedom. I know this trip will be one of the highlights of my life and I hope I can in some small way bring a sense of home and joy to our troops overseas who serve our country so valiantly."
JIM L. MORA, NFL NETWORK ANALYST & FORMER NFL HEAD COACH
Former Atlanta Falcons and Seattle Seahawks head coach Jim L. Mora joined NFL Network prior to the start of the 2010 season, serving as an analyst for NFL Network’s pregame and postgame coverage of Thursday Night Football, Super Bowl XLV and the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine. Mora and former head coach Brian Billick also co-hosted The Coaches Show every Monday during the 2010 NFL season.
Mora brings 26 years of NFL coaching experience to his broadcast career, including four years NFL head coaching experience at the helm of the Atlanta Falcons (2004-2006) and the Seattle Seahawks (2009-2010). In his rookie season as head coach of the Falcons, Mora guided the team to an 11-5 record in 2004, becoming just the eighth rookie head coach in NFL history to win 11 games. Atlanta went on to capture the NFC South title and earn an appearance in the NFC Championship game for only the second time in franchise history.
Mora, alongside his wife Shannon, founded the Jim Mora Count on Me Foundation in 2005 which strives to support children in need by affording them the opportunity to realize their potential and dreams, help create more stability in their lives, support advocacy for children, and support channels that allow children to have a voice.
"I'm excited to have the honor of spending time with our troops in the Middle East," said Mora. "Their selfless service to our country should be an inspiration to all Americans."
KEN WHISENHUNT, ARIZONA CARDINALS:
Whisenhunt has completed four seasons as head coach of the Cardinals and his 36 victories already rank him third among the franchise’s all-time coaches. In 2008 and ’09, he led the Cardinals to their first back-to-back division crowns since 1974-75. The ‘08 season brought the franchise’s first postseason appearance since ‘98, first division crown since ’75, and first home playoff game since ‘47. It ended with the team’s first-ever conference title and Super Bowl appearance.
"All of us involved with the National Football League are extremely fortunate and privileged to do what we do," said Whisenhunt, whose father, brother and father-in-law all served in the Air Force. "We have the opportunity to pursue our passion in the greatest country in the world and that’s a freedom that we don’t take for granted. The way of life that we enjoy as Americans is a result of the commitment, dedication and sacrifice made by countless men and women serving our country in the Armed Forces and it will be an honor to meet many of them on this trip."