By Rin Velasco
Boston University News Service
With their colorful suits tailored and game faces on, locals and friends clashed in a tackle football game to support a military veteran nonprofit during Boston Marathon weekend in Rogers Park.
Cameron Miller, the founder of the organizing group Three Piece Suit Football, said that the idea came from an annual informal tradition he had between friends that eventually evolved over the course of over 10 years into an annual charity event that spans from its original home of Georgia to Massachusetts.
“It really just started as just a silly thing amongst a handful of friends,” Miller said. “That’s where took off ever since.”
Money generated from selling raffle tickets and access to VIP seating areas as well as donations supports the charity supported at the event, Operation Delta Dogs, Miller said.
The event was free and open to the public, featuring a booth where bystanders could meet with people at the non-profit Operation Delta Dogs, which rescues dogs from shelters and trains them to be service dogs for veterans.
Vic Morency, Boston Chapter President of TPSF, befriended Miller while Miller was finishing his post-doctorate in Boston. Morency later became enamored with Miller’s charity football festivals and has been organizing games and events in the Boston area for almost 10 years since.
“We also always have support for veterans, and you’re saving a dog’s life too,” he said. “It’s like the best of both worlds.”
Operation Delta Dogs executive director Charlotte Troddyn said TPSF has been instrumental in helping raise funds for her non-profit, which also offers aid and support to veterans in addition to training dogs for former service members.
“[Three Piece Suit Football]’ve really made it a mission to make sure those veterans know how important they are,” Troddyn said.
TPSF’s chapter in Boston raised nearly $12,000 in 2019 for Operation Delta Dogs.
State Rep. Kevin Honan, D-Allston-Brighton, said he comes to the event every year it’s held, enjoying the sportsmanship of the players and the cause they were playing for.
“They play for keeps out here a lot; a lot of pride on the line out here,” he said.
The referee for the game was a former player of the state representative from his days coaching basketball, Honan said, noting the game’s personal significance to him.
The event came with its own quirks and accolades, like a Three Piece Suit Football trophy, blazers with the TPSF insignia and awards for the most well-dressed and the most valued player.
Split into a red team and a blue team, the players wrestled for dominance on the field, wearing attire that ranged from standard tan and gray affairs to eye-popping fashion tributes to pop culture characters like Pac-Man, Tony Montana, and Superman.
Morency dressed as the character Omar Little from the television show “The Wire” that Saturday, having previously won two times for his “Cash Money” attire, an outfit adorned with 100 dollar bills, and a lavender tribute to the late musician Prince, respectively.
Red team quarterback Mark Mitchell wore a blue suit emblazoned with a Superman logo pattern and was introduced to the event approximately five years ago by Morency. Mitchell said he appreciated the support given to the veterans and ideals behind it.
“It’s important to give back in any way I can,” Mitchell said. “What’s important to my friends is important to me.”
By the time of the halftime show, where live music was played and raffle prizes were exchanged, the red team had 26 points on the board while the blue team had 13. Mitchell said he wanted to “put on a show for the crowd” in the second half of the game.
The blue team’s quarterback Jon Stadtmiller said he had been friends with Mitchell for years and that it was invigorating to be outside, playing a TPSF game since the pandemic caused last year’s game to be canceled.
With the blue team at 13 points at halftime, he said he hoped his team rallied in the final half of the game and they needed to discover a way to take down their larger opponents.
“We’re gonna come back,” Stadtmiller said. “Find a way to beat Mark, and then we’re all gonna have a good time after.”
By the time the game ended, the red team had won with 45 points to the blue team’s 27.
“That’s like the beauty of our game and event,” Miller said. “Everyone comes together, and whether you’re on the red team, the blue team, winning team or losing team, it doesn’t matter: there’s a sense of camaraderie.”