The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service partner, announced the 2021 nominees for the eleventh annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with demonstrable commitment to honoring and supporting military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.
Finalists are scheduled to be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally the week of Super Bowl LVI.
"Now more than ever, it's essential that our nation come together to support and show appreciation for those Americans who are serving and have served our country, as well as their families," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "This year's nominees for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA all deserve special recognition for stepping up to support our military community, and we are encouraged to see this list of diverse nominees coming from all areas of the NFL organization."
Last year's recipient was Steve Cannon, CEO of the Atlanta Falcons' parent company AMB Sports and Entertainment. Cannon will serve on the award panel and vote to select the 2021 Salute to Service Award recipient.
As the presenting sponsor of the Salute to Service Award, USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the recipient's name to official aid societies representing all U.S. military branches. The NFL will match USAA's contribution by donating an additional $25,000 to the awardee's military or veteran charity of choice.
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military and veteran community. Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor, empower, and connect with members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative. The league's military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring and thanking veterans, active-duty service members and their families.
Below is a list of the 2021 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA nominees:
BUFFALO BILLS SEAN MCDERMOTT (Head Coach)
Throughout Head Coach Sean McDermott's tenure with the Buffalo Bills, he has always valued community engagement while methodically transforming the culture of the franchise. A pillar of his outreach has been to support our military. Often Coach McDermott can be found sporting a Bills camouflage hat to show appreciation for the military, especially the many friends and family who have served, including a close friend from college, Colonel Tim Brady of the United States Marine Corps. As quoted in a recent William & Mary College (their alma mater) magazine, McDermott stated of his former classmate "I'm proud to say he's serving our country. The military doesn't always get the credit it deserves."
Coach McDermott has been an avid supporter of the Buffalo Bills Salute to Service outreach by bolstering all team events created to honor active servicemembers, military families, and veterans. In 2019, Coach McDermott welcomed a group of World War II veterans through Buffalo Niagara Honor Flight to a practice and surprised the men with the news that they would be honored during a ceremony at a Bills game the following day. For several years, McDermott would greet military members at the team's annual Military Appreciation Day at Buffalo Bills Training Camp, as well as at the Bills Salute to Service gameday each November.
In 2021, McDermott was hands-on in honoring our military by joining a flight with The Blue Angels alongside members of the United States Navy. His flight enriched him with perspective on the many skills and talents military members possess to serve our country. Additionally, two members of Coach McDermott's coaching staff—wide receivers coach, Chad Hall, and special teams assistant, Matt Smiley—are military veterans.