Week after Super Bowl, 7 NFL players tour Israel, meet with PM

Trip to Israel a first for Geoff and Mitch Schwartz, only Jewish brothers to play in NFL during modern era.

Mordechai Sones ,

Judean Rebels football team of the Israeli Football League
Judean Rebels football team of the Israeli Football League
Flash 90

A week after the Super Bowl, a group of top NFL players began a whirlwind six-day tour of Israel yesterday. The group will tour Jewish and Christian sites, experience the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Holy Land, meet Israel’s President and Prime Minister, receive briefings from Israeli leaders of tech, innovation, security, diplomacy, and international aid, and encourage the proliferation of American football in Israel.

The trip is organized by America’s Voices in Israel, a nonprofit that provides high-profile Americans with the opportunity to experience Israel firsthand, in cooperation with the Jerusalem Affairs Ministry led by Minister Ze'ev Elkin.

r to l: Chris Harris Jr., Avery Williamson, Geoff Schwartz, Joshua Norman, Vic Beasley, Mitchell Schwartz
צילום: America's Voices

The seven NFL players on the group are Josh Norman of the Washington Redskins who is considered one of the top Cornerbacks in the league, Chris Harris Jr. of the Denver Broncos a Super Bowl Champ, three-time NFL All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowler, Vic Beasley of the Atlanta Falcons who was named First Team All-Pro, Avery Williamson who lead his Tennessee Titans in back-to-back 100-tackle seasons, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Tight End for the NY Jets, Mitch Schwartz, Offensive Tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs and his brother Geoff who retired in 2017 after nine years as an Offensive Guard.

Some of the players have been joined by their spouses and other family members.

The group arrived late on Tuesday night. Yesterday, they headed to the north of the country for two days to tour Christian sites including the Sea of Galilee where some group members will be baptized. They will also hear about Innovation Africa’s success bringing advanced Israeli technologies to the most remote areas in Africa and visit a few of the thousands of wounded Syrians who were evacuated by the IDF for treatment in Israeli hospitals.

On Friday night, the football players will experience Sabbath prayers at the Western Wall in Jerusalem and on Saturday night, they will join IFL (Israel Football League) players on-field at the Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem. The NFL pros will pose for photos and sign autographs for Israeli football players and fans.

There are 1,350 active football players in Israel with a semi-professional tackle league and dozens of high school teams.

Some of the highlights of their time in Jerusalem will include a visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s National Memorial of the Holocaust; a meeting with Israel President Reuven Rivlin; a briefing with Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin; a tour of the Western Wall and a chance to experience the nightlife of the outdoor “shuk” market.

On Monday, the final day of the trip, they will have a chance to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his Jerusalem office.

Schwartz brothers with their spouses at Psagot
צילום: America's Voices