Atlanta Falcons Honor Veterans With Initials On Helmets

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The Atlanta Falcons honored veterans by featuring the initials of different fallen veterans on their helmets.

"It's our way to honor fallen heroes for families that we want to show and demonstrate our respect to," head coach Dan Quinn said, reports the Independent Journal Review. "On that day we wanted to let their families know that we're playing for their fallen hero."

Players walked onto the field donning 64 white circle stickers with black initials on their helmets.

Afterward, the Falcons and AT&T donated $100,000 to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, which helps grieving military families.

Punter Matt Bosher said that he was "proud" to play for veteran William “Billy” Koprince Jr. and his parents.

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"Thank you for everything your family has given to our beautiful nation," Bosher wrote under an Instagram photo of his helmet. "Here is to keeping his amazing memory and ultimate sacrifice alive!"

Quarterback Matt Ryan honored deceased Iraq war veteran 29-year-old Capt. Joshua Byers, who was killed on his mother's 50th birthday.

"He was known for making his soldiers laugh and providing morale boosts despite the chaos of war around them," Ryan said in a video posted to Instagram.

Yet the tribute provoked mixed reactions.

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Some said they appreciated the NFL players' gesture.

"Thank you, much respect," tweeted one. "They are more than a name. Thank you again."

"The tribute was beautiful!" added another. "God bless those that fight for our freedoms and their families! Great job!"

However, many approached the tribute with skepticism.

"Impossible to take the NFL patriotism seriously given the disdain they have show thus far for our anthem," voiced a third. "I would have more respect for the NFL if they at least got off the fence. Not buying it!"

"Again, nice gesture, it would have been much more meaningful if it was done at every game, honoring a different veteran, from the start of the season," wrote one reader in the Independent Journal Review's comments section. "Oh but the NFL wouldn't let a decal honoring the 6 assassinated police officers, or the patch that some players wanted to wear on the uniforms honoring 911.  Sorry, this is just a hollow gesture, because the NFL is being hit in the pocketbook, where it really hurts."

"As a Gulf War Vet I feel if even one Falcon does not stand with hand over heart and honor our flag and national anthem, their gesture rings hollow," added another.

Sources: Independent Journal Review, Atlanta Falcons/Instagram, mattbosher5/Instagram, Shemeika Banks/Twitter, Chris/Twitter, Jimmy Sanderson/Twitter / Featured Image: Sam Howzit/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Army/Wikimedia Commons, DVIDSHUB/Wikimedia Commons

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