Pretty neat story as MSU Meteorology student and Pat Tillman Scholar John W. Van Horn III is selected to play some flag football with a group of veterans. The vets thought they were just playing a sandlot game with no one watching, but they were in for a surprise.
How many of us can say we've intercepted Kurt Warner?
Not many. But MSU student and former US Air Force senior air man John W. Van Horn III can. Van Horn was a part of a group of veterans asked to participate in a flag football game as a part of last week's Fiesta Bowl activities. The game was held as a benefit to the Got Your 6 foundation. The group of service men and women thought they were just going to be playing a simple game on a soccer field, but they were in for a surprise.
The group actually played at nearby Cerritos Community College, fully decorated as if it was preparing for a college game. Tostitos brought in fans, and a few celebrities too, to add to the experience for the veterans taking part in the Tostitos Homecoming Party Bowl.
Van Horn and his fellow vets were coached by legendary former Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden, while the opposing team was coached by Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Celebrities such as Marcus Allen, Owen Wilson, Kurt Warner, and even Modern Family's Cam (Eric Stonestreet) were a part of the game honoring the veterans.
Van Horn talked with MSU's University Relations a bit about the game and the experience on the whole:
"They actually told us that we lost the soccer field where we'd been playing, and they had to scramble around to get another. Then, they take us to this local college," Van Horn said. "They got us back on the bus after the walk-throughs and took us a couple hundred yards. We could see the TOSTITOS tunnel you run out of.
"Then we walk into the locker room, and everybody's locker is decked out. We all just freaked out. People were jumping around; it was just an amazing experience."
Then, coaches Bowden and Meyer walked in, soon followed by NFL greats Warner and Allen at Cerritos Community College in Norwalk, Calif., southwest of Los Angeles. Once the teams -- Liberty and Freedom -- were on the playing field, actor Owen Wilson ran up, ready to play and support both veteran teams, Van Horn said.
"Everything was in the moment; we were living in the present. It was so surreal," he said. "It was almost hard to act like me because I didn't know that atmosphere. All this stuff was put on for us, and it was an absolutely amazing experience -- hanging out with Marcus Allen and talking pregame stuff, besides trash-talking on Kurt Warner -- it was all in good fun."
Another interesting side note is that Van Horn is a walk-on punter for MSU's football team, but was sidelined this past season due to a stress fracture in his foot.
It's so awesome to see something like this orchestrated for such a deserving group, especially a group that includes one of our fellow Bulldogs. Kudos to all of those who worked to make this happen for these brave men and women who risk their lives so that you and I may live in peace in this great country.
If you watch the above video, Van Horn is #42 on the blue team.