Staff Sgt. Peter Berardi
Selection as a player for the 2014 U.S. Army All-American Bowl is a prestigious honor for athletes.
While only the strongest are chosen to wear the Army colors, the players have their own reasons to don the jersey representing the Army.
Some players choose to participate in the All-American Bowl over other bowl games because it is the top high school football game, pitting the best players from the East against the best from the West, while others see it as an opportunity to honor those who have served in the nation's largest fighting force – the Army.
One West team player made his decision based on how well the event is put together and the length of time the players get to spend with each other.
"It’s an original bowl, I felt it was the most well put together of all of them," said Bijhon Jackson, from El Dorado High School in El Dorado, Ariz., and defensive lineman for the West Team.
Adding, "We get more practice time here than the other bowls, getting that extra time to get in sync with guys that you’ve known for a couple of days and got more time to bond as friends. I felt like this bowl was a better decision."
A teammate based his decision on entirely different factors.
"I chose to play in the Army Bowl because it’s [about] a lot more. It’s not just for you and your family and the honor of being an All-American, it’s for the Army," said Dwight Williams, from Juniperro Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., and linebacker for the West Team.
He added, "They shed their blood and give me the opportunity to out here and do this and they put their lives on the line and I just want to honor them."
Regardless of why players chose to participate in the 14th Annual U.S. All-American Bowl, the climactic game of East vs. West at the Alamodome in San Antonio was enjoyed by the players and family members, the armed forces and the nation’s football fans.