Harbaugh told him then what an honor it would be for him to one day address his team.
Harbaugh and Col. Gadson kept in touch over the years, and it ultimately led to Col. Gadson making his first trip to the Under Armour Performance Center Saturday . Following practice, the team huddled tightly around Col. Gadson at midfield, where players and coaches listened intently as he shared his powerful story and words of encouragement for the team.
“My message to the team was about being accountable to self first, and being accountable to each other and working hard and developing a character,” Gadson said. “It’s all about developing individual character and developing team character and building a team. That team is about trust, and it’s about trust that you’re doing the right things for the team in all aspects of your life. Taking care of yourself, making smart decisions on and off the field and being accountable to one another [is most important].”
Harbaugh added: “He talked about what it means to be a team, and he talked about the essence of being part of a team is about trust, being able to trust one another. He told his story, which is just a tremendously heroic story, and talked about living every moment, being in every moment, in that moment, and not living in a moment you’re not in. That’s the one thing I remember: Don’t live a moment you’re not in. We can take that one with us.”
After his address, one by one, players and coaches formed a line to shake Col. Gadson’s hand.
For Col. Gadson, football has become more than just a game. To him, football is family. He cherishes the relationships that are cultivated through football and treasures the opportunities to impact an individual or a team.
A distinguished and decorated serviceman, Col. Gadson has twice earned the Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars, three Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals and a Purple Heart.
Col. Gadson now lives in Alexandria, Va., and has a small company where he continues to support the government – mostly the military – through service-based contracts. He also enjoys speaking engagements throughout the country. As he noted, it keeps him busy.
Thank you, Col. Gadson for visiting the Ravens and for sharing your incredible journey. But mostly, thank you for your sacrifice and for your service.