Former Nittany Lion Rivera visits U.S. troops in Kuwait, Qatar

June 25, 2004

Camp Wolverine, Kuwait -- Almost one year to the day of the first NFL-USO visit to the Middle East, former Penn State standout Marco Rivera touched down Monday (June 21) in Kuwait to begin a four-day tour of U.S. bases in Kuwait and Qatar.

Rivera of the Green Bay Packers and Brian Baldinger, who played for the Cowboys, Colts and Eagles during a 13-year career and currently works as an NFL analyst for FOX, were greeted by a wealth of warm receptions that exceeded the 110-degree heat.

After checking into their Army base accommodations at Camp Wolverine, the duo set out for Camp Doha. There they signed autographs and posed for pictures with servicemen and women.

Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant Christine Dare surprised Rivera by producing a "Green Bay Packers" football for the Pro Bowl veteran to sign. "The last think I expected to find in Kuwait was a Packers football," said Rivera. If she hadn't already, Dare then proved without a doubt that passionate Packer fans are everywhere.

"When the Eagles beat the Packers," said the sergeant from Fox Lake, Wisconsin, "I lost a $5 bet. I was really upset so I paid it back in pennies. But first I painted one side of the pennies gold, flipped them over and the other side green. Then I placed them in a jar with vegetable oil and said to the person, 'here -- now try to spend these.' "

"I was somewhat surprised by the positive attitude everyone has," said Rivera. "No one complained about being here. They're so young, but they're so mature."

Rivera has become one of the NFL's top guards since his selection by the Packers in the sixth round of the 1996 NFL Draft. A three-year starter for the Nittany Lions, the Elmont, N.Y. product was a second team All-Big Ten selection and helped Penn State earn a 31-5 record from 1993-95. Rivera has started 95 regular season games for the Packers over the past six seasons, including every regular season contest the past five years. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2002.

The National Football League provided some of the information in this story.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 19, 2009