The Oakland Raiders announced their day three draft selections April 28 from the Thunderbirds Hangar on Nellis Air Force Base, Nev.
The NFL organization chose Nellis as the location to help grow ties and strengthen alliances with a community they will be a part of when the team relocates the Las Vegas.
“Being a part of this community, they’re part of our family now,” said Napoleon McCallum, former Raiders running back. “If you’ve lived in Las Vegas then you know that we have come from different places and melded together. It’s a great place to live.”
The Raiders invited members from the base, including Maj. Gen. Peter Gersten, U.S. Air Force Warfare Center commander, Mr. Irvin Ridgeway, 99th Civil Engineering Squadron Fire Prevention Flight assistant fire chief, Tech. Sgt. Jerome Fontenot, U.S. Air Demonstration Squadron NCO-in-charge of phase and Staff Sgt. Coty Hernandez, Nevada Test and Training Range security administrator, to read the four draft picks made on national television, in conjunction with the Raiders and Alumni that were in attendance.
“We are very happy when we can partner with our community,” said Brig. Gen. Jeanne Leavitt, 57th Wing commander. “Our Airmen are proud to serve our country and having that connection with the community, the community that they defend and protect, is important to keep that connection.”
The Raiders have already made strides toward integrating in the community by holding youth camps in the surrounding areas, said Townsend. By doing this the organization extends its reach to the younger generations and gets them excited about the team’s arrival in Las Vegas.
Showing the teamwork between the community and the Air Force is critical to success and the similarities between what we do in the Air Force and professional sports exemplifies this, said Leavitt.
“The NFL and the military have always supported each other, it’s always been a brotherhood and a hand-in-hand type of a relationship,” said Greg Townsend, former Raiders defensive lineman.
The team is scheduled to begin play in Las Vegas in 2020.