NFL legend Joe Thomas, who was the third pick in the 2007 NFL Draft and played left tackle for the Cleveland Browns, was chased down by an Air Force K-9 during a USAA Salute to Service visit.
During a recent USAA NFL Salute to Service visit of Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio, Thomas, along with Houston Texans legend Whitney Mercilus, had the opportunity to witness the lifestyle and training of the U.S. military’s K-9 units.
“Thanks to @USAA for bringing @merci380 & I out to run the ‘K-9 40’ at JBSA-Randolph,” Thomas tweeted, “ It was awesome to see both these military working dogs & their handlers, who help protect our country. Thank you for your service!”
According to Fox News, both Thomas and Mercilus were shown what a typical day is like for the canines and the military trainers before experiencing the speed and power of the dogs during the “K-9 forty.”
“Seeing what it’s like being a working dog trainer, and see what their daily life is like, was really cool,” Thomas said. “They got a cool job and they work hard and we appreciate everything they do to keep all of us safe. It was cool seeing what those dogs can do – how powerful, how fast they are, how good their noses are.”
For the “K-9 forty” race, the two NFL legends were outfitted in dog training suits that allow the military dogs to practice real-life situations of chasing down and tackling suspects. The dog training suits allow the dogs to bite when commanded by their trainers; once the dogs bite down, they are trained to not let go until a trainer instructs them.
Outfitted in the suits, Thomas and Mercilus raced away from the military dogs; however, both former NFL stars were quickly chased down and tackled by the dogs.
“I was not exactly sure in that moment when the dog took me down if he wasn’t going to eat me,” Thomas said.
Despite any anxiety Thomas may have faced during the “K-9 forty,” the former left tackle said it was “really cool” to “see it up close, put the dog suit on and we got to try to run away and try to act like perpetrators as well as we possibly could. Thomas added, “I’m not sure I would’ve survived it had I not been wearing that dog suit.”