Northwestern carries retired Navy SEAL teammate off field in Veterans Day honor


At age 31, after serving in Afghanistan and Iraq as an explosives expert on initial-entry teams and while working as an instructor at Great Lakes Naval Station, active Navy SEAL Tom Hruby decided to enroll at Northwestern and walk on to the football team in 2013.

To say it was a bold move was an understatement, but it's one he undertook anyway. That's Hruby's style.

He wanted to play college football — it was as simple as that.

Hruby practiced with the Wildcats for two years before finally being cleared by the Navy to play last November for Northwestern's game against Michigan. He led the team onto the field with the American flag for that contest.

Since being honorably discharged after nine years of service, he's chipped in for the team in any way he can — participating on special teams, working as a linebacker, defensive lineman, h-back, and even playing running back.

A lot of teams around college football are wearing decals or special uniforms to honor our military on Veterans Day weekend, but Hruby's Wildcat teammates didn't need a stars and stripes sticker — they honored “an American hero” — to use Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald's words — by carrying him off the field following the team's win over Purdue on Saturday.

The Wildcats have been desperately trying to get Hruby a touchdown this season — Saturday, he fumbled at the 1-yard line, his second goal-line fumble of the year — but so long as the Wildcats keep winning, they're going to keep trying to get him that score.

And if you thought this moment was cool, when he finally breaks through, it is going to be something special indeed.