Former Dallas Cowboys star and Pro Football Hall of Famer Roger Staubach is among the 32 nominees announced by the NFL this week for the ninth annual Salute to Service Award.
The award recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and legends who demonstrate a commitment to honoring and supporting the military community.
Jaguars linebacker Myles Jack, Chiefs fullback Anthony Sherman, Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, Saints defensive end Cam Jordan, Giants wide receiver Golden Tate, Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson and Washington defensive end Jonathan Allen are among current players nominated.
Head coaches Matt Patricia (Lions), John Harbaugh (Ravens) and Ron Rivera (Panthers), and general managers John Dorsey (Browns) and John Lynch (49ers) are also in the running for the award.
Finalists will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at “NFL Honors,” a two-hour primetime awards special that airs on Feb. 1, 2020 — the night before the Super Bowl in Miami.
Current San Francisco 49ers and former Atlanta Falcons guard Ben Garland was last year’s recipient. He will serve on the award panel and vote to select the winner.
USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families is the presenting sponsor of the Salute to Service Award and will contribute $25,000 in the recipient’s name to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The NFL will match USAA’s contribution of $25,000, which will be donated to the award recipient’s military charity of choice.
When Del Reid calls asking for a charitable favor, Buffalo Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander always responds.
Reid is the founder of Buffalo-based 26 Shirts. Every two weeks, he designs a shirt usually featuring a member of the Bills or NHL’s Sabres to raise funds for charity.
The latest design features Alexander’s face to help support 4-year-old Andre Sanders, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer. Sanders was diagnosed shortly after his family moved from western New York to Florida, and his illness has prompted the family to return home.
Alexander has met Sanders, and leaped at the chance to help him and his family.
“For me, it puts things in perspective, because I have a 5-year-old,” Alexander said. “It’s emotional to think about a family going through that.”
A GoFundMe campaign has already raised more than $54,000 for Sanders as of Thursday night.
Alexander is also impressed with the passion Reid puts into his work to help others.
“It goes to show you, you don’t have to be a celebrity, you don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be famous to make an impact on other people’s lives,” he said. “He’s a guy that sees an issue or sees an opportunity to help people and he seizes the moment.”
For Reid, the feeling’s mutual.
“He’s really done a great job of taking the platform the NFL has given him and doing things that are productive,” Reid said. “For whatever reason, we have an audience, so let’s do something productive with it.”
Reid said on average they sell 200 shirts every two weeks, with $8 from each sale going to charity.
The Alexander design launched the seventh year of Reid’s charitable series of shirts. He hopes it won’t be the last featuring the 15-year veteran, who has suggested this could be his last NFL season.
“Hopefully, he commits to another season,” Reid said. “I’m going to miss him when he’s gone.”
San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo raised some eyebrows with his postgame interview with Fox’s Erin Andrews after last week’s win at Arizona.
When asked how it felt to be 8-0, Garoppolo said, “Feels great, baby.”
That got quite a reaction on social media, but Garoppolo said there was no hidden meaning.
“I didn’t expect it to blow up like that,” he said. “It is what it is type of thing. Yeah, I was excited: 8-0, baby.”
Garoppolo said he didn’t plan out what he was going to say, but it’s just a phrase he uses often.
“No, I say ‘baby’ like 500 times throughout a game just to my teammates and stuff,” he said.
BLUE AND GREEN BARKLEYS
Saquon Barkley might look up into the MetLife Stadium stands Sunday and see his father wearing the colors of the opposing team.
The New York Giants running back’s father, Alibay, is a big Jets fan, and has to balance rooting for his son and cheering for his favorite NFL team.
“It’s kind of weird because he has a Jets tattoo, so even if he wears a Saquon Barkley jersey, he’s still repping the Jets,” Saquon Barkley said. “But, if you ever met my dad, you know my dad, he’s been a Jets fan his whole life, so is he going to root for the Jets? Yes, but he’s going to root for the Giants and his son at the same time.
“So, he gets the best of both worlds. Watch his team that he grew up rooting for and get to watch his son live his dream.”
But, the elder Barkley might be decked out in a Joe Namath No. 12 Jets jersey despite his son playing for the Giants.
“I think I got him that jersey actually, the Joe Namath one,” the star running back said. “But at the end of the day, I knew this situation was going to come up one day, but I’m happy for him. I was a Jets fan growing up, too, so it’s fun.
“It’s going to be a little fun competition in the Barkley house.”
Christian McCaffrey is racking up the yards this season at a record pace.
The Carolina Panthers running back leads the NFL with 1,244 yards from scrimmage and joined Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown (1963) as the only players to have at least 150 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown in six of their team’s first eight games.
McCaffrey needs 156 yards from scrimmage Sunday against Green Bay to become the fourth player in NFL history with at least 1,400 through their team’s first nine games. The Panthers star would join Brown (1,529 in 1963), Larry Brown (1,405 in 1972) and O.J. Simpson (1,518 in 1975).
TOP OF THE LIST
Helmet manufacturer Xenith has entered the realm of head protection for flag football and 7-on-7 competitions — and immediately jumped to the head of the class.
The Xenith LOOP was launched this week as another headgear option in the growing area of non-tackle football.
Impressively, the LOOP is now the top-rated flag football headgear in testing conducted by Virginia Tech’s Helmet Ratings, besting a headgear from VICIS by .01.
“With the growth of non-tackle, football is more present in an athlete’s life than ever before. Creating a protective solution specifically engineered for non-tackle is a necessity for athletes and a challenge we were excited to take on,” Xenith CEO Ryan Sullivan said. “Xenith LOOP is an important part of the Xenith portfolio of products which elevate the athlete’s pursuit in playing, training, and living.”
While most flag football or 7-on-7 headgear cover the entire head and need a chinstrap, the LOOP has a halo design that sits around the head just above the ear with a larger surface area protecting the back of the head.
The LOOP sells for $79.
AP Pro Football Writers Josh Dubow and Dennis Waszak Jr., and AP Sports Writers Tim Booth, Simmi Buttar and John Wawrow contributed.