Mack Hollins is a firm believer that his occupation as a NFL receiver is easy compared to what his younger brother has done for this country.
Hollins' brother, Drew, enlisted in the United States Marine Corps after high school and served for over four years, stationed at Parris Island in South Carolina, Quantico Station in Virginia and Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.
It was a path Mack was surprised his brother followed, but it's a decision he looks up to Drew for making. Mack said he commonly jokes about "being at the bottom end of the ladder" in his family.
"In my mind, my younger brother would be the highest," said Mack Hollins. "I didn't have to sacrifice anything to do what I did. Yeah, there's some time where I have to lift, but that's not a sacrifice to me. To sacrifice for something you don't even know is going to be successful is much harder than me going to lift weights and go run routes. And for him to leave the country and go protect our country when he doesn't know if he'll back or he doesn't know what might happen – that's a much bigger sacrifice than what I'm doing.
"What I'm doing is easy. I get accolades, everybody loves me. But people in the military don't get that even though their job is 10 times as difficult as mine."
The hard-work and dedication to their crafts is something Hollins attributes to the way he and his brothers were raised. Something that is very similar to his teammate Brittain Brown's path to the NFL.
Brown, the rookie running back out of UCLA, also has military ties that have impacted his life. His grandfather was a Vietnam War veteran and his father, Keith, is an Army veteran who served during the Gulf War. Brown reflected on how his father's penchant for everything being orderly has carried over into his own life, not only as a football player, but as a person.
"Make your bed every single day, keep your room clean, wake up Saturday mornings and get your push-ups and sit-ups in, go run the hill when you don't want to," said Brown. "I was just one of those kids that wanted to play video games and chill all the time. But my dad was like 'You've got to have your mind and body right.'
"I think he also gave us a good competitive edge, making me and my brother go up against each other," continued Brown. "We always kept that competitiveness with each other, so just bringing that into the league – having to be competitive every day is what you need to stay in this league. Just bringing that from what he taught us helps me stay focused the whole time in practice, waiting for the moment to play in these games when the time comes and having that competitive longevity."
The Raiders will be honoring our veterans and active military this Sunday as part of the NFL's Salute to Service league-wide initiative, and both Hollins and Brown are excited to pay tribute to their family members' commitment to the military.
"All the soldiers, men and women, that do everything for this country, we appreciate their service," said Brown. "Every single day, we need people like them to keep this country strong."
The Raiders partnered with USAA for a visit to Creech Air Force Base where players and Raiderettes signed autographs and took photos with service members.