Ex-Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards works to recognize veterans

Former Chargers linebacker Donnie Edwards, left, congratulates LaDanian Tomlinson  after Tomlinson's number was retired in 2015.
Former Charger Donnie Edwards, left, congratulates LaDanian Tomlinson after Tomlinson’s number was retired by the Chargers in 2015.
(Sean M. Haffey / Getty Images)

Donnie Edwards has spent his post-NFL career working with veterans and helping shine a light on their contributions.

Recently, in a world dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, he experienced something he described as a fitting reminder.

“My wife went to Costco and there’s no meat,” the former Chargers and UCLA linebacker said. “Think about how it was during wars, the rationing that went on. In talking to some of our World War II vets, that’s what they’re talking about.


“We’re getting just a small taste of it right now, not having the freedoms that we’re used to having. These restrictions are very, very little compared to what life was like for some during the war.”

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Edwards, 47, who played his final NFL game in 2008 with Kansas City, operates the Best Defense Foundation, which, among other things, offers a battlefield-return program.

During Super Bowl week this year, his commitment was recognized when he was presented with the Salute to Service Award, given annually as a joint venture between the NFL and USAA.

With the approach of Memorial Day, he is working with USAA on a Poppy in Memory program, offering the opportunity to recognize digitally those who have died serving the country. More details can be found at

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“It’s a wonderful way to just remember,” Edwards said. “I think a lot of people take Memorial Day for granted. It’s the start of summer. It’s barbecues and all that. But I think in the environment, with the coronavirus, it’s the ideal time to stop, reflect and be grateful for what we have.”

Because of COVID-19, Edwards’ foundation has been forced to cancel several trips, including one to Iwo Jima.


Best Defense is promoting a 5-kilometer walk June 6 in remembrance of D-Day. Given the COVID-19 restrictions, the event will be staged virtually.

“We’ve never experienced anything like this,” Edwards said. “Not in my lifetime, at least. This pandemic is affecting home, and I hope people are understanding the significance of that, especially this weekend.”