19 Pro Football Hall of Famers visited Israel along with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. 19 Pro Football Hall of Famers visited Israel along with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Former NFL linebacker Andre Tippett greets Israeli youth football players. 19 Pro Football Hall of Famers visited Israel along with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. (Photo: David Silverman/New England Patriots)

Pro Football Hall of Famers touchdown in Israel

The NFL legends' week-long visit took them from tech forums to football fields.

Members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame made a touchdown of a different kind on June 16, arriving in Israel for a week-long visit as part of the program "Touchdown In Israel: Mission of Excellence."

The trip was organized and paid for by Patriots owner Robert Kraft and included 19 HOFers in all, including former New England Patriots and New York Jets running back Curtis Martin, former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Chris Doleman, former Oakland Raiders wide receiver Tim Brown, and former Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas.

Former NFL running back Curtis Martin takes a selfie with a few Israeli youth football players.Former NFL running back Curtis Martin takes a selfie with a few Israeli youth football players. (Photo: David Silverman/New England Patriots)

Martin, for one, was awestruck by the experience, telling ESPN.com, “This whole trip to Israel has been one of the best experiences in my life.”

The trip kicked off with a visit to the technology expo in Jerusalem. Members of the delegation received an introduction to 10 of the best tech companies in the country, seven of which are funded on the OurCrowd equity crowdfunding platform. The NFL vets were also greeted with a demo of ReWalk, a wearable bionic skeleton that allows individuals with spinal cord injuries to walk again.

Many of the football players visiting brought their spouses on the week-long trip.Many of the football players visiting brought their spouses on the week-long trip. (Photo: David Silverman/New England Patriots)

Later in the week, the HOFers and Kraft met with Israeli football fans and youth players and took in sites around the country.

Football has become increasingly popular in Israel, and Kraft can be thanked in large part for that. He has long sponsored the Israeli Football League (IFL) and the Robert Kraft Family stadium in Jerusalem, where many of the games take place, is named in his honor. Besides the IFL, there are several pro and youth leagues, and a movie was made about the country's burgeoning love affair with the American game.

Ahead of the trip, Kraft and a few of the players sat down with the media to talk about the trip.

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