Kansas City Chiefs equipment manager Allen Wright has been with the Chiefs a long time, but even he would admit that this may be one of his best ideas yet.
With this Sunday's matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars marking the Chiefs Salute to Service game, Wright received the shipment of special military sweatshirts that each player will wear prior to the game last week.
The sweatshirts are all black, and on the upper right quadrant, there is a green Chiefs logo. On the upper left quadrant, there is a strip that reads, "Salute to Service."
That was the part of the sweatshirt that got Wright thinking.
"I was looking at a sweatshirt and it says, 'Salute to Service,'" Wright explained. "I thought, 'Wouldn't it be nice to salute the ones who pay the ultimate sacrifice and the ones that have lost their lives?'"
Wright came up with the idea to put names of local fallen shoulders on the sweatshirts, and to do so, he reached out to the Chiefs in-house military liaison, Major Mark Lemanski.
"Mark called the Gold Star group and I told him I needed 63 names and it would be here within the Chiefs Kingdom."
Since Gold Star families were termed as such by the Department of Defense, there have been over 18,000 service men and women from Kansas and Missouri who made the ultimate sacrifice since World War II. The 63 Gold Star names chosen came from this very long list.
Once Wright had the logistics down, Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who actually has a military background in his family, happily signed off on the idea. Wright's assistant, Cale Kirby, took the lead in making sure every sweatshirt had a name to go along with it.
From that point, Wright decided to take his idea a step further. Rather than just the players simply wearing a name, he wanted them to know about their particular Gold Star recipient.
"We had these cards made up that's a little synopsis of each individual that will go into the players' lockers," Wright said. "They will understand who the person is and who they're representing so there's a little bit of connection there."
The cards will tell each player about where the soldier was from, his or her age and where he or she was killed in action or service.