With Veterans Day upon us, it is a good time to highlight former Raiders running Mark Van Eeghen, who has been announced as the Raiders’ nominee for the 2019 NFL season “Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.”
Van Eeghen played in 136 games, starting 103 of them over 10 years, for both the Raiders and New England Patriots. He was drafted in the third round (No. 75 overall) by the Raiders in the 1974 draft out of Colgate. At 6-foot-2 and 223 pounds, Van Eeghen played a combination of fullback and tailback. He ran for 6,651 yards and scored 37 rushing touchdowns in his career.
The Raiders won two Super Bowls during Van Eeghen’s eight-year stint with the team: Super Bowl XV, where he was the game’s leading rusher, and Super Bowl XI.
But it is what the 67-year-old has done since retiring that earned him this nomination. This year he joined the Raiders on their trip to London.
While there, he ventured out to the Royal Air Force Base in Suffolk, England to visit American troops stationed there. While there, he met with the airmen and their families, passed out Raider gear, and signed autographs.
He was also part of a group from the NFL who welcomed the families of fallen heroes from a program called Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), doing much the same things as with the active troops — signing autographs, passing out Raiders memorabilia, and giving them a tour of the Raiders’ practice facility in London.
His daughter Amber has taken part in two overseas trips as a cheerleader to meet with the troops — venturing to Japan, South Korea, Hawaii, Portugal, Turkey, Iceland, Germany, and England. She happens to be married to former Patriots center Dan Koppen.
Another of Van Eeghen’s daughters, Brooke, served as a Major in the Air Force.
Van Eeghen is nominated alongside current and other former players, coaches, and front office staff. The NFL will announce finalists for the award in January, and recognize the winner at the NFL Honors awards show in Miami on Feb. 1 — the night before the Super Bowl.
For his family’s commitment to, and support of, the United States Armed Forces, Van Eeghen is a deserving nominee for this award.