Sgt. LeCheton Settles was told the news over the phone, and to check Ron Rivera’s Twitter account when he hung up. Now, days later, the 40-year-old Maryland resident still has trouble believing the post was real. When Settles checked the page, he saw a photo of himself from 22 years ago and a caption, at first, thanking him for his military service.
Then, he finished reading the tweet — confirming what he had heard.
“(Two) tix to #SBLIV seems like a great way to say ‘thanks’ for his sacrifices,’” Rivera said in the tweet.
It wasn’t a prank. On Friday, Settles and a friend will head to Miami for Super Bowl 54 after winning two tickets to Sunday’s game through two military associations (The USAA and American Veterans). A die-hard Redskins fan, he’ll even get a chance to meet with Rivera when Washington’s coach is scheduled to visit with military members on Saturday.
Settles said he’s “shocked” at the news.
“To be in person for the Super Bowl, that’s a dream of a lifetime for, I’m pretty sure, all NFL fans, all football fans,” Settles said. “Period. And to be surrounded around fellow brothers and sisters in arms and to be able to speak with coach Ron Rivera? It’s like a trifecta almost.”
Settles enrolled in the Marines at 17 years old, serving eight years and doing stints overseas in Japan, Korea, Australia and Guam. He held roles as a field Artillery cannoneer, security force Guard, martial arts instructor and a small arms weapons instructor. He now works in information and technology services.
Sunday will be Settles’ first Super Bowl in person.
As a Redskins fan, Settles admitted it’s been a “tough go” the last few years, but is hoping his favorite team will get back there someday. He said he was pleased Washington hired Rivera as he’s also a fan of the Carolina Panthers, the team Rivera coached until last month. “I don’t get to miss him that much,” he said.
Rivera has a lifelong connection to the armed services. His father, Eugenio, was a member of the Army and that lifestyle shaped the man Rivera would become. Rivera remains passionate about his ties to the military, and in Carolina, he kept a whistle he received as a gift from an Army drill sergeant in his office.
“Inspired by my father’s military service, we always had a strong military appreciation in our team’s culture during my time in Carolina,” Rivera said in a statement, “and I plan on continuing that now with the Redskins in Washington, D.C.”
Since finding out the news, Settles said his phone has been “blowing up,” including those wondering if he had an extra ticket. As part of the trip, Settles got to bring a friend along with him. He chose his friend, Corey Singletary, over his wife — but all is good on the home front, he said.
Settles said his wife had a prior commitment she couldn’t get out of, adding she has been very supportive.
“She said, ‘Hey, go have fun … have a good time,’” Settles said. “And man, I’m ready.”
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