FOX 2 - Healthcare workers have been on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic for nearly a year and now the NFL is rewarding them with tickets to Super Bowl LIV
Doctor Zafar Shamoon is the chief of the emergency department at Beaumont Dearborn. For the last 12 years, he's traveled to Las Vegas to watch the big game with two close friends who also work in medicine. This year they canceled, so Shamoon's wife Doctor Nadia Yousaf wrote an emotional email to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I talked about just how hard he has been working in the emergency department and how every single person has been putting in so much time," she said.
To Yousaf's surprise just days later she got a response and Shamoon and his buddies got the invitation of a lifetime. They are among the 7,500 healthcare heroes who are going to Tampa Bay for the game.
"I was so happy because he's been working so hard and doing so much, it is just an amazing opportunity to get back to all the first responders," she said.
"I was in shock, I was in my office at the time," Shamoon said. "I had to sit down because it's unbelievable. It is like a bucket list item that came through."
Shamoon says the news is still surreal and for him, this is about more than a football game.
Beaumont Dearborn Dr. Zafar Shamoon.
"I think when it hits me (will be) when also the last year will hit me at the same time (and) all the stuff we went through with the last year," he said.
Now while the pandemic is far from over, Shamoon is incredibly grateful to be among the front-line workers honored on Sunday. And as Yousef wrote in her email- not all heroes wear capes - these heroes wear masks.
"I hope I don't get too emotional in front of my friends but they've been through it too," Shamoon said. "And the people that are sitting in two rows in front of me have been through it and the people behind me have been through it."
Dr. Nadia Yusaf, left, and her husband, Dr. Zafar Shamoon.
Shamoon and his friends did have to show proof they have received COVID-19 vaccines before being cleared to go, and are busy packing for the trip of a lifetime.