Ex-NFL Player Trades in Football Uniform for Army Uniform, Lives Out Childhood Dream
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Ex-NFL Player Trades in Football Uniform for Army Uniform, Lives Out Childhood Dream

Former Arizona Cardinals cornerback Jimmy
Legree has put a halt on his career as a professional athlete to enlist in the U.S. Army. Like many boys, Legree knew from a young age
that he wanted to serve in the military, but his plans changed when he began his football
career at the University of South Carolina. Legree graduated from the university in 2013
and began playing professional football for the Arizona Cardinals over two seasons in
2014 and 2015, Fox News reported. The trainee had also been signed briefly in
2014 by the Seattle Seahawks. “I went a different route by going to college
and playing football, but once that window was closed I reverted back to my Plan A, which
was joining the military,” Legree said in an interview with the Army. The 28-year-old Legree began Basic Combat
Training in early December at Fort Sill in Oklahoma and is currently assigned to D Battery,
1st Battalion and 19th Field Artillery. He told KSAZ-TV “I just felt myself getting
older and before this opportunity closed, I wanted to take advantage of it, so I just
decided to jump up and get on it.” Most would assume the transition from playing
professional football to becoming a soldier would be somewhat difficult, but Legree didn’t
appear to have an issue. “You have your head coaches and that’s
similar to drill sergeants who are correcting any mistakes that you make,” he said to
the Army. “In football you wear a helmet and shoulder
pads, and here you wear your ACH (Advanced Combat Helmet) and all your equipment.” Legree’s parents never served in the military,
but some of his extended family did. However, that is not where the bulk of his
motivation comes from. His biggest inspiration has been former Cardinals
player and Army Ranger Cpl. Pat Tillman. Legree told the Army that Tillman “is definitely
inspiring — his passion for the game and his passion for the country was motivation
for me.” In his interview with KSAZ, he said that he
is proud to serve his country, and “every day it is a mental challenge, and every day
you have to remind yourself why you joined, why you’re here and get through the day
the best way you can.” His former teammates gave him their full support
once he made the decision to enlist, and the recruiters were excited to get him in once
they found out he played in the NFL. The Army reported that Legree was described
by Senior Drill Sergeant Jason Aqui as a mature, humble and positive trainee. Once he graduates from Basic Combat Training
on Feb. 21, Legree will be sent to Fort Gordon in Georgia, where he will be training to make
a career as a communications specialist.

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