Nate Boyer, Green Beret & former NFL player
This is the sporting life on ESPN radio and the ESPN app. Here's Jeremy chef. We welcome to the show. Now previous guest Nate voyeur. Who was a green beret served in the US army for several years did multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq, and of course, many sports fans for playing a role a couple of years ago when Colin capper Nick was I sitting during the playing of the national anthem at the beginning of the two thousand sixteen season. And then after speaking with Boyer decided that it would be more respectful to kneel during the anthem Nate. Thank you for joining us again. Of course, there's Jerry need. You know, when when Veterans Day rolls around each year, what are the thoughts uppermost in your mind anymore? Like, I know it's going to be a hectic time of year. But forget reason and it's always during football season. Because it's always obviously, you know, the eleventh day eleventh hour, the eleven months original, Mr. stay, which is actually a hundred years ago at the end of World War One this year. So, you know, I think about my fellow brothers and sisters arms that are still fighting. I think about ones that have that our veterans like myself, and you know, out here in the in the world, whether we're doing well or not doing so well continuing to try to find a mission and be purposeful and and fight for something that that the uniform off. But I also think of those you know, like we normally doing Memorial Day that pay that Oakland. Smith sacrifice just ones that aren't with us any. More and trying to be a positive part of carry on their legacy and the way that I live my life. So it's really just you know, I I'm grateful. I'm very grateful for how much in this day and age in this era, how thankful people are towards servicemembers. But I'm also aware that it hasn't wasn't always like that. And you know, I I'm very happy. And and gracious of of those that do feel that way, and there's also an element sometimes of wondering is it a little bit. Because of the way that veterans were poorly treated, you know, for instance, during Vietnam, so it's it's a weird day. That's the best way to drive. There's a lot of feelings going on in the most. We're speaking with the former green beret and long snapper Nate Boyer. And. One of the initiatives of the George W Bush foundation, and I was privileged to be involved with it on a number of -cations was raising awareness of the invisible wounds of war and the psychological toll exacted by by combat duty in particular is that is that something in your travels around the country that you were paying particular attention to these days. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, and you see those things manifest themselves in various ways, you know, whether they be sometime self destructive, or, you know, sometimes there is such a thing of as post traumatic growth that sort of comes out of dealings with post traumatic stress, but it's a tough one because you know, it's a different two different times different war. We have a lot more fire have better. Technology our equipment better protections better. So more of our men and women are coming home, which is great. But that doesn't mean there wasn't a toll that was taken on them overseas. Right. And it's also I think we're finally getting to this place where it's not only like encouraged, and and and you know, may seem okay that you should talk about these things. But it's like a must like we all have to somebody was talking to me recently about the Spartans, you know, way back thousands of years ago, they they had a mandatory mourning period after every battle. They went to you know. And when I was overseas, you know, granted I'm not I wouldn't backup Spartan. But when I went overseas, it was very much this this idea of like you can't let your emotions not only get the best of you can't even let your emotions surface you have to keep everything down. You have to you know, stay on task. It's like in sports. We talk about you know, we sometimes. Emotional players on the sort of good thing they need to be composed. And and worry about that later. But it's not healthy, you know, to to bury all that stuff down and not let it breathe not let it come out. Because I think it just it it multiplies on it self, you know, and if we never have that release we never opened that valve, and let us just communicate and share about the struggles. And talk about that stuff. We won't understand first of all that there's so many people that could relate to that that have gone through a similar experience. But also, it's just it's not healthy. You know, we need that that therapy of just communicating struggles that were going through. We're speaking with the former green beret, Nate Boyer innate, you know, when you got involved with professional football a few years ago. I'm sure the last thing in your mind was that you'd be play a role in this national controversy over the course last couple of years with the anthem protests. What is it been like for you the last couple of years to be some? One who has played a role in in an issue that has become so polarizing and so divisive in this country. Yeah. You know, I never would have considered myself are thought that I would be involved in in in the discussion of activism in any way growing up. It's just I'm not very political. I don't really I don't follow up all six. I'm not a big fan of most politicians. I it's just it's hard for especially I think for a lot of people that served in the military because you know, we know we're on the ground, you know, fighting and doing these things especially tough time now because it's so divisive, you know, to come home from overseas, and here the kind of stuff that we hear amongst ourselves. And I hold I hold the community members that the American citizens all of us like accountable, I'm not going to blame. I've never wanted people to blame the the people in power because we have a choice in how we respond to stuff. Right. And so that's been very frustrating. It's been very tough. And like you said through this whole the kneeling controversy, you know, in the anthem controversy. I it's it's just a microcosm of that. I mean, it's it's become such a divisive issue like. We what's really interesting to me is is this like, you know, in history. We've never really seen her thought of gesture of kneeling as being disrespectful, right? But I understand why people feel that way. Because of maybe some of the things that that call and had said about why he was doing it. And you know that he didn't want to stand for a flag that oppresses black people and people of color because a lot of a lot of people in our country. Don't feel that that flag does Stanford for that type of oppression. But at the same time, I it's all this talk seems to be all about just the kneeling. Just the gesture not about why I mean, his his reasons behind is police, brutality and social injustice in racial inequality and all these things, right? But you know, if he if somebody had gone out tomorrow now and started started kneeling during the anthem. I think we'd have this automatic reaction about who they were the person what they're all about. You know? But what if they came out afterwards in the press conference and say, well, I'm actually kneeling for veterans issues because I don't think our country takes care of our vets like, they should it be very very different conversation. You know what I mean? But we don't really listen to that part that we were so visual. You know, we see a headline, and and a lot of that's social media and all that and we'll condition in a certain way. But I think that it's our fault too. I think we need to do a better job is Americans to just be respectful of one another and not let whether it's you know, media politicians, whatever you wanna call it not let that be a divisive force because it's really nice. It's up to us speaking with Nate Boyer. The former green beret and football player in Nate. I would imagine this is an occasion on which with Veterans Day that you reflect on your service and your time Spence in Afghanistan and in Iraq how. How did that experience shape? You into the person you are today. I mean, I think it it helped me with open minded this, which may be counter to what a lot of people would imagine that you experience in in in going overseas in fighting a war, you know, much against a many of the people that you're fighting against don't look like, you believe in a different religion, you know, have different values. But especially being in the special forces, many of the people I fought alongside looked and believe those same things looked like and believed in those same things. And and so I developed this kinship and understanding, and I guess this open-mindedness where I came to this place of understanding that because just because I was born where I was born in the family that I was born into, you know, most of what I kind of think and believe in values that hold or because of that experience because of that upbringing. Nothing nothing that I really chose. And it was the same with all of those people there. I think back in the states, and they were as diverse probably more diverse than any place in the world. So we're gonna have those experience we're gonna meet those people that were just not going to. We're not going to immediately understand immediately be able to relate to, but if we sit down with them, and we and we spend time with them when we talked to them, and we do things with them, and we become, you know, friends with them. And we understand realize that we're all that's what Americans are there's no like cookie cutter version of what at American looks like what a patriot is. It's so much easier to to be okay with that. When once you listen to everybody, we all went the same stuff. We all want. What's best for our families? We wanna feel relatively safe. We wanna love we wanna be loved same stuff. You know for the most part. I think there's a few bad people in every. In every group. But for the most part like, we're we're just good people people are just good, generally. And and so I learned that I think when anything from fighting overseas, I learned how to overcome adversity and had never quit, and and and sacrifice for the men on your left, and right and all those things as well. But the biggest lesson for me it was that. And and I try to carry that forward, you know, today, and and just with the the ordination I'm very fortunate to be a part of this merging vets and players MVP for short that that I co-founded with Jay Glazer like would come to one of our sessions and meet these veterans. I mean, they are everywhere. We even have an Iraq interpreter. That's take comes in and works out with the gym every week and spend time with us. I mean, and it's just cool to see that appreciation for one another. And how accepting everybody's at the group. It's just the non judgmental place, and these that's our liberal or conservative or black white. You know, they're everything and they're Americans. And it's just a it's really special to be a part of that and continue to be a part of that that tribe. I guess multi important message, especially here as we reflect on the contributions of our veterans including you Nate Nate. We appreciate your coming on the show. Of course. Thank you very much. Jeremy I'm Jeremy shop, and you can listen to new additions of the sporting life every Saturday and Sunday morning on ESPN radio and ESPN app beginning at six AM eastern time. My name is Lauren. I'm thirty three. I didn't want my identity to be the smoking mom my first experience with jewel. I do remember being like this is good. It's it's it's like a cigarette. But not I don't miss smoking at all. Like, I can officially say it grosses me out jewel is the tobacco alternative that delivers nicotine satisfaction without cigarette. Ashra lingering odor make the switch and J U L dot com slash sports. Warning. This products entity nicotine is. Addictive chemical.