NEW YORK (AP) — Current and former NFL coaches Leslie Frazier, Bill Cowher, Eric Mangini and Ben Kotwica are visiting U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf this week as part of a USO tour.
"It seemed like a small thing to do for all they do," Frazier, the Minnesota Vikings' coach, said in a phone interview Monday.
This is the second such trip for Cowher, the retired Pittsburgh Steelers coach who now works for CBS. It's the first trip for Frazier and Mangini, the former Jets and Browns coach who now works for ESPN.
Kotwica is an assistant special teams coach for the Jets spent who seven years in the military after playing college football for Army.
This is the third annual NFL-USO Coaches Tour. Past participants have included Tom Coughlin, John Fox, John Harbaugh, Gary Kubiak, Marvin Lewis, Andy Reid and Ken Whisenhunt.
Mangini said he was impressed to see how soldiers from all over the United States come together as a highly efficient unit.
"Being a coach, having to deal with 61 players, is nothing compared to what's happening here every minute of the operation," he said.
The troops of course had plenty of questions about football, and they went far deeper than general inquiries about star players or big games. They asked Mangini about NFL rules changes and the Arena League.
Frazier said when he got back, he'd remind his daughter that whenever she sees servicemen and women, to thank them. And he won't have much patience if his players gripe about the heat during training camp.
"It just puts in perspective that there's nothing you should ever complain about," he said.