Browns to honor servicemen, servicewomen during Salute to Service game vs. Lions (11.17.21)

For Immediate Release

Nov. 17, 2021


BEREA, Ohio – The Cleveland Browns will highlight their year-round platform of local and national military appreciation by honoring active military personnel, veterans and their families throughout Sunday’s game against the Detroit Lions as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service initiative in November. This year’s game is presented by CrossCountry Mortgage, the official mortgage partner of the Cleveland Browns, which will be actively involved in the team’s tributes to servicemen and servicewomen throughout the week.

Cleveland will recognize personnel and veterans from each military branch, as well as family members who support them, throughout Week 11 and Sunday’s game. The team will incorporate various in-stadium gameday elements honoring local heroes, as well as host representatives from USO Ohio, a First and Ten community partner of the team.

During the game, the Browns will honor Anthony Yassall in their weekly First and Ten Community Spotlight segment. Yassall is a 95-year old World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient who currently lives in Northeast Ohio. As has been done at each home game since the national tragedy of 9/11, the team will also salute patriotic individuals who support the country and the local community through the Hats Off to Heroes Honor Row, which pays tribute to military members, police, firefighters, first responders and other local heroes through Browns Give Back. This week’s moment will feature individuals from various military branches, selected by USO Ohio.

Additionally, the Browns and CrossCountry Mortgage will welcome the family of the late Navy Corpsman Maxton Soviak and members of Milan Edison High School’s football program as special guests during the game. Born in Westerville, Ohio and a native of Berlin, Ohio, the 22-year old Soviak paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country, along with 12 other US service members, following the attack on the Kabul airport this past August. In addition to his passion for service, he was a proud member of the Chargers football team and helped lead the group to the final four playoff games during his junior year, as well as served as a captain as a senior.

Prior to kickoff, members of and recruits from the Marines will display the flag during the national anthem, sung by Staff Sergeant Crysta Beatty of the Ohio National Guard. The presentation of the nation’s colors and anthem will conclude with a flyover by a C-130 operated by the 910th Airlift Wing from the Youngstown Air Reserve Station.

Five individuals from the Walter Reed National Medical Center will also be VIP guests of the Browns throughout the weekend. They will arrive in Cleveland on Saturday night with a unique welcome at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport before attending Sunday’s matchup with Detroit. Flights, hotels and game tickets were all provided courtesy of United. Walter Reed National Medical Center, located in Bethesda, Md., is a premier military academic health center that provides innovative patient-centered care and advances medical readiness, education and research for service members.

The first 30,000 fans entering FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday will receive a Browns 75th Anniversary beanie, courtesy of CrossCountry Mortgage as the presenting game partner.

Yesterday, the Browns held their “First and Ten Tuesday” event at FirstEnergy Stadium, where T James Hudson III, staff members and Elk & Elk volunteers will assemble care packages for local service members through the USO Ohio. On Friday, the team will also join the USO Ohio at the Ohio National Guard Armory (6225 Engle Road, Brook Park, OH 44142) for a Browns-themed celebration with 35 families whose loved ones have previously served or are actively serving the country.

Last night, veterans who currently work for CrossCountry Mortgage joined members of the Browns organization, including P Jamie Gillan, WR Rashard Higgins and FB Andy Janovich, for a private dinner to commend them for their commitment to the country.

The NFL and Browns earlier this month announced that QB Baker Mayfield was selected as the team’s 2021 Salute to Service Award nominee, which annually recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community, as nominated by NFL clubs. Throughout his career, Mayfield has been actively involved in military appreciation engagements with the team and through his own efforts, including on gamedays, during training camp, First and Ten Tuesdays and other personal connections.

The Salute to Service campaign aligns with a long-standing NFL tradition of supporting America’s service branches, including a more than 50-year partnership with the USO that hosts overseas visits to troops and trips to military hospitals nationwide. Browns Alumni Joe Thomas (2010), RB Eric Metcalf (2013) and other former Browns personnel have participated in weeklong NFL-USO Tours, where they interacted with and thanked military personnel on multiple bases overseas.

Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor and support members of the military as part of the NFL’s Salute to Service campaign. The league’s year-round military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring veterans, active-duty service members and their families.

Salute to Service is a year-round effort to honor, empower, and connect the nation’s service members, veterans and their families. It is grounded in deep partnership with non-profits and organizations that support the military community in the United States and across the world. The NFL extends its appreciation of the military community through special moments of recognition at games and events, as well as visits to military bases both domestically and internationally throughout the year.

The NFL, along with its teams and partners, is proud to support the Pat Tillman Foundation, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), USO, Wounded Warrior Project and the Bob Woodruff Foundation, to fund programs and provide resources that positively impact veterans and active duty military members and their families. Since 2011, more than $51 million has been raised for the league’s military nonprofit partners.

About the Cleveland Browns and Browns Give Back:
The Browns Give Back to Northeast Ohio with a commitment to education and youth football while engaging the community through the team’s signature First and Ten volunteer movement. For more information, visit

Education – The Cleveland Browns are dedicated to improving the quality of education for students in Ohio by making investments that keep kids in school every day so they can succeed, highlighted by the Stay in the Game! Keep Learning, Every Day! Network. The Stay in the Game! Network is a statewide initiative designed to promote the importance of school attendance and put an end to chronic absenteeism. The team engages local school districts and promotes quality education by using attendance data and feedback from families to build a school-going culture, uncover and reduce common barriers to attendance and support engagement opportunities for students to thrive. In the 2021-22 school year, the Stay in the Game! Network will partner with 16 school districts, benefitting more than 100,000 students in Ohio. An adaptation of the Get 2 School, Stay In The Game! Network, the name change reflects the current environment where schools may not necessarily be able to host in-school learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic. No matter the circumstances, the Stay in the Game! Network will continue to encourage and support students to maintain a strong educational-going mindset to keep learning, every day, aligned with its overall goal to help end chronic absenteeism and provide all students equal opportunities to be successful. To learn more visit, visit

Youth Football – The Cleveland Browns are committed to assisting the development, safety and growth of youth and high school football throughout Northeast Ohio with year-round programming for players, coaches, officials and parents. Through camps, clinics and other initiatives, the Browns’ goal is to promote healthy, social, emotional, intellectual and physical development of youth by enhancing opportunities for youth football participation and education.

First and Ten – Launched in June 2014, the Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team’s community program, established to inspire fans to #give10 and help their communities by volunteering for 10 hours each year. Through First and Ten, the Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual’s city across the globe, as well as the franchise’s local community. To date, more than 2.75 million hours of volunteering have been pledged through First and Ten. All Browns fans are encouraged to join the volunteering effort by signing the First and Ten pledge on the team’s website and by sharing their stories with #give10.

About CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC:
CrossCountry Mortgage, LLC is a top-10 retail mortgage lender in America, founded in 2003 by CEO Ronald J. Leonhardt, Jr. The company has more than 6,000 employees and licenses in all 50 states. A direct lender and approved seller and servicer by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and Ginnie Mae, CCM offers a broad portfolio of home purchase and refinance programs ranging from conventional and jumbo mortgages to government-insured programs for Veterans and rural homebuyers. Additional options include down payment assistance, home equity products, and expedited closing programs. CrossCountry Mortgage is on the Inc. 5000 List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies and a recipient of several other local and national awards for sales and growth. For more information, visit

About USO Ohio:
Since 1941, USO Ohio has served as a private, civilian 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that receives no direct government funding but relies solely on the generosity of corporations, organizations and the American people. USO Ohio touches the lives of nearly 50,000 active duty, guard and reserve military and their families throughout the 31-county region. For more than 75 years, USO Ohio has provided morale, recreation and social services to US Armed Forces personnel and their families through its programs and services. USONO Center facilities are located in the Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS), Cleveland Hopkins Airport, the NOSC in Toledo, Youngstown Air Reserve Station and care package processing center in Warren. The network of hundreds of volunteers donates nearly 20,000 hours of service annually in honor of these brave men and women.

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