Not everyone gets to have their favorite NFL football player welcome them to their job. Then again, not everyone is re-enlisting for four more years in the military.
On June 14, Yeoman First Class Petty Officer (Aviation Warfare) Brian Laliberty recommitted to the Navy, where he has served since April, 2001. The 28-year-old Manassas native is a huge Redskins fan and wanted a player to administer the oath of service on his special day.
Enter wide receiver Anthony Armstrong.
“I contacted the Redskins prior to the lockout seeing if it was possible for a player to re-enlist me or if there was any interest,” Laliberty explained. “Right before the lockout happened, Anthony volunteered. With the advances of technology, I was able to find him on Twitter to get the ball rolling so I could re-enlist.”
Armstrong has had a busy offseason in the community, primarily in the roll of a youth soccer coach. Armstrong was able to fit Laliberty’s ceremony into his plans, even sacrificing a day of player workouts with his teammates to be there. Armstrong (@MrArmstrong) later shared his congratulations with Petty Officer Laliberty (@realB_EZ)on Twitter:
“It was a complete honor, I truly appreciated him doing it,” Laliberty said of Armstrong. “He was definitely raised right and worked his way. He couldn’t have been a more humble guy, and more engaging.”
According to Laliberty, Armstrong was very openly excited to be there. “He looked like a little kid in a candy store walking through the Pentagon,” he said. “He definitely got a kick out of the Bank of America inside and the David Mann Jewelers.”
Laliberty is expecting to be deployed in August to Norfolk where where he will be stationed aboard the U.S.S. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Laliberty now plans to be career-military, but 11 years ago, that wasn’t the case.
“It took the loss of my grandfather–whom was my father-figure–to say, ‘What are you doing with your life?’ about a month before he passed in October 2000,” he recalled. “That got me to really think about what I was going to do.”
While it may seem unusual to have a celebrity conduct a swearing-in ceremony, it isn’t unheard of. In fact, compared to some others, Laliberty’s sounds pretty tame.
“I’ve heard of people doing it skydiving or on a roller coaster or at the beach or something,” he said. “I’ve been a Redskins fan since birth. I’m pretty sure my parents would’ve took me home from the hospital in a Redskins onesie if they had one. So I wanted a Redskin player, since they are my biggest passion in my personal life.”
That passion has taken on new meaning thanks to his time in the military. Laliberty has been stationed all over the country, from Illinois to Mississippi, and Virginia to Hawaii. No matter where he goes, Burgundy and Gold football is a reminder of home.”It’s a break from reality,” he explained. “It gives me peace of mind to forget frustrations. It helps me remember home when I or someone deployed can’t pick up the phone to call a loved one.”
While he isn’t planning a second career in coaching, Laliberty did have a few thoughts for what he’d do if he was in charge of the Redskins: “I’d love to see what the kid Chris Neild can do at nose tackle. I would re-sign Moss and have Moss, Armstrong, Hankerson, Kelly be our top four receivers. I would bolster the two lines in free agency and give some of the young kids a chance to shine in the other positions.”
As for his favorite players, he has a few. In fact, it may have been quicker to ask who he didn’t like.
“It differs with each generation. I remember being a kid and Green, Monk, Jacoby, Clark and Walton–yes even Alvin Walton–were my favorites. Recently, my favorite players have been Sean Taylor, Clinton Portis, Moss, Fletcher, and Cooley. Armstrong, Orakpo, Landry, Hall and Banks are my favorites now.”
Laliberty is a true patriot and a proud member of Redskins Nation. Before the conversation ended, he made sure to express his appreciation for everything that Armstrong had done for him.”I just want to thank Anthony and his girlfriend, all of my family and friends that attended,” he said. “Without their support personally and professionally, I wouldn’t be where I am at today.”
Good luck Petty Officer Laliberty, and great shirt.
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