A group of eighteen pro football Hall of Famers are visiting Israel on a trip led by Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
The week-long tour, called “Touchdown in Israel II: We Are All Patriots,” began Thursday and includes former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana, former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, and former Cleveland Browns fullback Jim Brown,
“It is so special to bring the best of the best to ever play my favorite sport to my favorite country in the world,” Kraft told The Jerusalem Post. “In almost 100 years of the NFL, I don’t believe a group of this caliber has ever come together outside of the US, and I am very proud to be able to put this trip together.”
In 2015, Kraft took 19 Hall of Famers on a trip called, “Touchdown in Israel: Mission of Excellence.”
The football legends on Thursday watched local Israeli teams practice in Ramat Hasharon, where some of the Hall of Famers served as honorary coaches.
“When the mainstream media speaks about Israel, it is usually brought up as a place not to visit,” Marshall Faulk, who was a running back for the Indianapolis Colts and St. Louis Rams, observed. “But so far, our experience in Tel Aviv has been nothing short of incredible.”
In addition to touring the country, the former players will be featured at a reception at Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem on Sunday. Kraft is scheduled to speak there, along with Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker and American Football in Israel (AFI) President Steve Leibowitz. There will also be a “meet and greet” at the event, giving the former players a chance to meet their Israeli fans.
Kraft has been a force in popularizing American football in Israel since 1999, when the Kraft Family Stadium opened. There are two tackle football leagues associated with the Kraft family in the country, as well as eight flag football teams in the AFI.
“It is really amazing to see how football has really taken hold here in Israel,” said Montana, who led the 49ers to four Super Bowl victories. “I am thrilled to be a part of this trip and to experience the influence of our wonderful sport throughout the world.”
Kraft announced in February that he was donating $6 million to build the first regulation-sized football stadium in Israel.
[Photo: Patriots.com ]