Eckrich® to Sponsor Obstacle Course at All-Star Football Challenge

Eckrich® and Operation Homefront will Join Forces to Honor Military Families at Event

LISLE, Ill., Jan. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-iReach/ -- Success is defined by how you react to obstacles.  Eckrich and Operation Homefront will recognize a special military service member and the families of military veterans during the Eckrich Obstacle Course competition at the All-Star Football Challenge at AT&T Stadium in Dallas.

In advance of the competition, Lieutenant Eric Kettani, a member of the United States Naval Reserve and fullback with the Kansas City Chiefs, will demonstrate the obstacle course for the participating athletes. Following the demonstration, Kettani will join over 50 active duty military members and their families from the Naval Air Station - Joint Reserve Base in Fort Worth, Texas, in the Eckrich "Bring the Smoke" Zone.  The "Bring the Smoke" Zone will be located in the end zone and provide a VIP experience for the military members and their families as they view the completion and enjoy Eckrich products.   

"I have two passions - serving my country and playing football," said Kettani.  "Eckrich is giving me an opportunity to do both at this event while hopefully inspiring these young college athletes to pursue their passions as well. I look forward to joining them on the playing field in the NFL, but my first priority has always been to protect the fields that we all call home.  While I have a passion for professional football, I will always stand with my fellow men and women who serve.  It's so rewarding that Eckrich will be honoring us and providing us with this great experience."

Kettani played college football at the United States Naval Academy. Following graduation in 2009, he served three years active duty with the Navy.  He earned his Surface Warfare Qualification in 12 months and completed a six-month deployment overseas. Kettani is currently serving in the Naval Reserves while simultaneously a member of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Eckrich, part of the John Morrell Food Group, a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, is entering its third year of partnering with Operation Homefront to support and thank military men and women and their families.  Although Eckrich is sponsoring the All-Star Football Challenge for the first time, Eckrich has been involved with college football for many years and currently works with ABC and ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit.  Eckrich and Herbstreit have worked together during the past two years to honor and drive awareness for military families. 

"Eckrich continues to work with Operation Homefront to honor and give back to our military veterans and their families," said Chuck Gitkin, vice president, marketing, innovation and R&D for the John Morrell Food Group. "We couldn't be happier to be a part of the All-Star Football Challenge by sponsoring the obstacle course and hosting the 'Bring the Smoke' Zone for the people who have fought to protect our freedom and the loved ones who support them.

Alumni of the All-Star Football Challenge include three Heisman Trophy winners (Ron Dayne, Troy Smith and Jason White), and 52 first-round NFL draft picks, such as: Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Santana Moss, Matt Ryan, Von Miller, Vernon Davis, Joe Flacco, Donovan McNabb, EJ Manuel and Edgerrin James. This year's lineup of Eckrich Obstacle Course participants features Heisman Trophy finalist Tre Mason (Auburn), Butkus Award winner CJ Mosley (Alabama), and Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) Independent Defensive Player of the Year Kyle Van Noy (BYU).

Tune in to see Kettani, the Eckrich "Bring the Smoke" Zone and some of the most talented NFL draft-eligible football players in the All-Star Football Challenge debuting on ESPN2 January 28 at 9 p.m. ET and again on Sunday, February 2 at 2 p.m. ET.  

About Eckrich 

Founded by Peter Eckrich in 1894, Eckrich has a rich heritage starting from a small meat market in Fort Wayne, Ind. Through it all, Eckrich meats have been recognized for their great taste and supreme quality, craftsmanship, care and pride. For more information, visit or

About John Morrell Food Group 

With over a century and a half of experience, John Morrell Food Group brands have become respected and well known for providing premium-quality meat products to families across the United States. With products ranging from lunchmeat and franks to smoked sausage, bacon and pepperoni, the John Morrell Food Group is an important part of consumers' mealtimes. The John Morrell Food Group offers several national and regional brands including Armour®, Eckrich®, John Morrell®, Curly's®, Patrick Cudahy®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Margherita® Kretschmar® and LunchMakers®.

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $13 billion global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook's®, Gwaltney®, John Morrell®, Kretschmar®, Curly's®, Carando®, Margherita®, and Healthy Ones®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental, and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit and

About Operation Homefront

A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers with nationwide presence who provide emergency and other financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors. Operation Homefront has met more than 750,000 needs of military families since its inception in 2002.  A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, 95 percent of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes directly to programs that provide support to our military families. For more information, go to


Media Contact: Bill Behrns, Intersport, (312) 467-2831,

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