'Are you ready for some football?'

WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo., -- "Are you ready for some football?"

This Sunday night, more than a billion people around the world will be watching Super Bowl XLIV, as the New Orleans Saints take on the Indianapolis Colts for the title of World Champions. Air Force members at home and abroad will be tuning in for this spectacle ... some will watch because they root for one of these teams, many more because they love football, and others because they enjoy the funny commercials or Super Bowl parties.

The game promises to be a match-up of two of the NFL's most prolific quarterbacks. Peyton Manning (with his fourth-consecutive MVP award) leads the Colts, while Drew Brees, who had the highest quarterback rating this year, leads the Saints. Watch for Manning to put the ball into the hands of Joseph Addai, Reggie Wayne or Dwight Clark. Brees depends of the talents of Marquis Colston, Robert Meachan and Pierre Thomas to move the ball down the field. They will be executing the strategies of two of the finest head coaches in the game -- the Colt's Jim Caldwell and Sean Payton of the Saints.

The biggest impact on this game will come from players whose names are less recognizable: Jonathon Stinchcomb, Ryan Lilja, Ryan Diem and Jonathon Goodwin, among others. These linemen protect the quarterback and create holes for the running backs. The game will also hinge on each team's defense, both filled with more names that are less familiar. The play of Brees and Manning will be the on the highlight reels, but the basics ... blocking and tackling -- is what will crown a champion.

In parallel fashion, our Air Force has Airmen in many important roles. Everywhere you go, there is somebody filling the position of quarterback -- an NCO in charge, shop chief, production superintendent, expediter or ops officer. These Airmen lead the way in implementing the goals and strategies established by our commanders, chiefs and supervisors.

Each of these "quarterbacks" has "go-to" Airmen that they count on when the going gets tough ... experts that can fix a difficult problem, catch a long pass or cut through a hole to get that critical first down.

Like the NFL, our Air Force is full of unsung heroes with names you have never heard doing a majority of the blocking and tackling.

When properly trained, organized and equipped, our Airmen are the driving force behind implementing Air Force strategies, achieving excellence and ultimately putting bombs on target. Although many of these Airmen may just be in their first or second term, we depend on them to properly execute the basics and guarantee the success of our Air Force. A missed assignment or poorly executed task can have a devastating impact.

Hard work, relentless preparation, textbook execution and mental toughness, will make a difference Sunday night. Whatever your role may be on our team, we cannot allow for anything less in executing our mission. Unlike the Super Bowl, when our "game time" is here, there will be no parties or funny commercials. Enjoy the game, and thanks for all you do to make our Air Force the greatest in the world.