By Alex Pena
Copyright 2014 Stars and Stripes
CAMP MARMAL, Afghanistan — Two former players for the Miami Dolphins and five members of the team’s cheerleading squad swapped the sand and sun of South Florida for snow at Camp Marmal in northern Afghanistan to meet with troops on the eve of the Super Bowl.
Troops based at Camp Marmal turned out to meet the former players and cheerleaders and get autographs.
Former Miami Dolphins linebacker Derrick Rodgers, who served in the Air Force before being drafted into the NFL, spent two of his four years in the service in Okinawa.
“Me coming over here is part of my giving back, because I understand that being over here sometimes can be monotonous,” Rodgers told Stars and Stripes. “You’re going through this situation, and not being appreciated is one of the biggest things that goes on in their minds.
“So when I get back and tell everybody what happened, I’m going to tell them there is a lot of individuals out here that care about their country,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers, former NFL fullback Lousaka Polite and the cheerleaders were on a trip organized by Armed Forces Entertainment, a Defense Department agency that provides entertainment to U.S. military overseas.
They signed autographs for the troops, posed for pictures, and had servicemembers sign a Dolphins banner that was to be brought back and hung in the stadium in Miami.
Jamie Quadrozzi, events coordinator for the team, said the Miami Dolphins have been participating in such “morale booster” trips since 2001.
“We do at least one tour a year, and sometimes we do more than one. This is our third tour in Afghanistan,” she said. “All the rest of the 37 cheerleaders that we left at home are dying to be here. For a trip like this, it’s a big deal for us. So we chose our top five girls, and they always say yes. They always want to be here.”