The National Football Foundation (NFF) is a non-profit organization, with the mission to “promote and develop the power of amateur football in developing the qualities of leadership, sportsmanship, competitive zeal and the drive for academic excellence in America’s young people.” Wow. Re-read it. That is a powerful statement; helping to build great life qualities while growing up and playing a game they love.
When people spend their lives embodying a mission that is so recognized from amateur football to NFL football, they will be recognized. 2013 marks the 56th annual National Football Foundation awards dinner at the impressive Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan.
There were two men honored that came from the US Army. Nate Boyer, Green Bronze Star Honoree and Texas long snapper, as well as General Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the US Army.
Nate was recognized with the Legacy Award, honoring individuals who have made contributions to the NFF and its mission of building leaders through football. When Nate came back from active duty, he realized he wanted to go to school. Wherever he decided to go, he knew he was going to try to play football. Try being the key word. He had never played. Always wanted to. He got into Texas, and had the opportunity to try out for the team. “Miraculously” he made it. He had taught himself how to play, but always had and will have a burning love for the sport.
“Football in general has been like an inspirational beam of hope for a lot of things in our country. I know personally for myself being overseas and deployed, my favorite thing to do was wait until 5 in the morning, were about 9 hours ahead over there, and watch a football game. It was something that I looked forward to every week. And then you see how much people involved in this sport support us, it’s amazing, and I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to do both of these things. I have received stuff that I maybe not necessarily deserved, because I’m just doing my job.”
With his services being recognized, Nate is excited for his future, although he is not 100% what is in store for him once he has finished school.
The Distinguished American Award is ranked one of the highest NFF award. Only given when a true candidate emerges, they must be an outstanding person who has maintained a lifetime of interest in the game and who has exhibited enviable leadership qualities and made a significant contribution to the betterment of amateur football in the United States. The NFF found one this year in General Ray Odierno.
“If it wasn’t for college football, I wouldn’t be here today.” Ray mentioned at the press conference for the 56th Annual NFF Awards and Dinner. “It gave me an opportunity to get an education that I would not have gotten if it wasn’t for football. It gave me to opportunity to gain the leadership skills I needed by having the opportunity to attend the United States Military Academy. So I will always be indebted to college football. It is about thousands of athletes that have an opportunity to gain an education, and better prepare themselves for life. And I think that is what college football is still about.”
General Ordierno is the current and 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army.
The most prestigious of the awards is the Gold Medal. US Presidents, US Admirals, US Generals and US Supreme Court Justice and many CEOs have won this award in the past. This year the award goes to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Goodell is involved in all levels of football, not just the NFL. They all affect each other.
“We are all partners in the game of football. I think to me what makes football so great over the years is we evolved…I believe together we can all make this game better, and safer at the same time. We’re so proud of our relationship with college football, high school football, and youth football. We all work together to make this game great because we appreciate it. We understand the values that it teaches and what it means to us.”
Obviously Goodell is more heavily involved with the game of football than some of the past winners, but the values and qualities learned from this game are unanimously recognizable.
The NFF is operated in conjunction with the College Football Hall of Fame. Along with the Awards Ceremony they also inducted the 2013 class, which included 12 players and 2 coaches. Also recognized was the 2013 NFF Scholar Athlete Class. One of the most impressive Scholar Athlete classes the NFF has seen, the young men have an average GPA of 3.79.
This was the theme of the day. College Football provides an education outlet, sometimes to people who may not have gotten that chance, but were skilled in all qualities of a football player so they were given this amazing gift. Education.
What an amazing day for the entire current and former college football players. Play on guys.