February 11, 2023

Two Army officers will play in Sunday’s Super Bowl thanks to a policy change led by former Philadelphia Eagles security guard and former Army Secretary Patrick Murphy. With help from General Mark Milley in 2016, Murphy worked to change an Army rule allowing military officers to play professional sports while serving on active reserve duty. The policy shift allowed current Eagle Brett Toth and Chief Cole Christiansen to be on their respective rosters this Sunday. Each is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Before joining the Army at 19, Patrick Murphy protected fellow Eagles fans as a 125 pound security guard for the Philadelphia Eagles from ages 16-19 in the notorious 700 level while a student athlete at Archbishop Ryan High School and Bucks County Community College from 1990-1992. Murphy went on to earn his Commission as an Army officer and served as a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq from 2003-2004, where he earned the Bronze Star for service. Murphy jokingly says that “Being an Eagles Security Guard in the 700 level was great training and probably tougher duty than Baghdad, Iraq.” Murphy went on to become the first Iraq War Veteran to serve in Congress and later was confirmed as the 32nd Under Secretary of the Army.

While Acting Secretary of the Army, he and then Chief of Staff of the Army General Mark Milley persuaded Secretary of Defense Ash Carter to implement the ‘Kelsey Minato’ rule, allowing Army Soldiers who sign professional sports contracts to enter into active reserve duty. Cadet Kelsey Minato was a 2016 West Point graduate who signed a professional WNBA contract to play for the San Antonia Stars in 2016. Murphy and General Milley worked with then Senator John McCain and argued then that the Army recruits 120K Gen Z Americans every year, and having professional athletes serve in the reserve component would help DOD recruitment. The Army hadn’t hit their recruitment goals for five years prior but then hit their numbers.

The ‘Kelsey Minato’ rule was rescinded in 2017 but then reinstated again shortly afterward. It will be open for debate in this year’s NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) with current Army West Point Cadet Andre Carter expected to be drafted.

Secretary Murphy left the Pentagon in 2017 and has worked with NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell, whose father was a US Senator, Eagles GM Howie Roseman, and partners with his Army and congressional colleague Tom Rooney, formerly of the Pittsburgh Steelers in investing in veteran-owned businesses ‘Vetrepreneurs’ and helping veterans better transition out of the military. He’s recently partnered with former Eagles Brandon Brooks at Wharton Business School on transitioning athletes/veterans. He’s partnering with The Independence Fund, Medal of Honor Recipient Dakota Meyer, and Army Special Forces Major Tim Kennedy at SXSW March 11th.