In the middle of a seriously good deed, there was a moment of levity.
A group of NFL players are now in Iraq as part of a goodwill tour to visit American troops. In a telephone interview with me, St. Louis Rams linebacker Will Witherspoon described meeting hundreds of soldiers and traveling to American bases all over the country. At times, he got quite emotional in describing the visit. Then, he told a funny story.
The group of players -- Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota defensive end Jared Allen, New York Giants linebacker Danny Clark, and Witherspoon -- were at one particular base and receiving a demonstration about how police dogs are trained. One of the soldiers asked the players if they wanted to put on one of those oversized protective suits and handle the dogs.
Witherspoon agreed. "I put it on but before I did one of the guys offered me a metal cup to protect my..." well, let's just say his package.
Witherspoon told the dog handlers, "No, no. I'm OK."
"That was a mistake," Witherspoon said.
With the suit on, Witherspoon was told to jump up on a wall. He obliged and jumped. As he did so, the dog did something, well, interesting.
"The dog went right for my sack," Witherspoon said.
Because I have the maturity of a seven-year-old, I laughed hysterically over the phone at that comment which caused Witherspoon to laugh as well.
"After I realized I wasn't going to have kids in the future," joked Witherspoon, "then (the dog) went for my arms and legs. It was all in fun. But seriously, you walk away from a trip like this so impressed with the military. They're the true tough guys. There are guys who've been here six, 18 months. They're very dedicated and we owe them a lot."
The group has traveled all over the region from Kuwait to Camp Ramadi.
"I don't know where to begin in describing this trip," said Fitzgerald to me. "These soldiers are just young guys like us. Yet they've dedicated their lives to protecting our country. You come away feeling a sense of admiration for what they do."
The soldiers are the real heroes but these NFL players aren't too shabby themsevles.
The group will travel back to the United States later this week.