Nfl and usaa announce salute to service award nominees

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The NFL and USAA, the NFL's Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, have announced the 32 nominees for the sixth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The Salute to Service Award annually recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community, as nominated by NFL clubs. A list of the 2016 Salute to Service Award team nominees is below.

Finalists for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA will be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at the NFL Honors awards show in Houston, TX on FOX on Saturday, Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver VINCENT JACKSON was last year's award recipient. USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, contributed $25,000 in his honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches.

A self-proclaimed “military brat,” Jackson, whose parents combined for 25 years of active-duty service in the Army, launched the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation in 2012 to support military families by focusing on the educational, emotional and physical health of military children. Jackson hosts local military families at each Buccaneers home game through the “Jackson in Action” Front Row Fans section. His military support efforts include authoring a children’s book, “Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment,” relaying the challenges and opportunities of growing up in a military family.

The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military community. The league’s military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events to celebrate and honor members of the military. For every point scored during the NFL's 32 designated Salute to Service games, the league donates $1,000 to each of its core military non-profit partners – the Pat Tillman Foundation, USO and Wounded Warrior Project®.

To learn more about the NFL's military appreciation work or to read teams' Salute to Service Award nominations, visit




View the nominees’ full stories on

Arizona Cardinals

Bucannon comes from a military family – his father served in the Marine Corps and his mother spent 23 years in the Navy. Growing up on military bases, Bucannon spends time volunteering with service members and telling stories of his childhood to military families around the world.

Atlanta Falcons

DAN QUINN (Head Coach)
Coach Quinn, along with his coaching staff, created the Rookie Club Olympics, an annual event that brings together Falcons players and military members and challenges them to reach the true level of team. This is in addition to his multiple military outreach efforts through his non-profit which benefits military members and families, Quinn’s Corps; including multiple events with TAPS, bases in the Southeast and providing opportunities for families and troops overseas during the holidays. Coach Quinn also hosted an Atlanta Falcons USO Tour through the Pacific this summer.

Baltimore Ravens

STEVE SMITH SR (Wide Receiver)
Smith Sr. has hosted numerous youth football camps for children of U.S. Military members at military bases around the world. Through the Steve Smith Family Foundation, he’s partnered with nonprofits, including the Wounded Warrior Project, to hold special events for military families.

Buffalo Bills

Incognito is the son of an Army veteran and has experienced first-hand the discipline, courage and sacrifice it takes to serve our country. At each home game throughout the season, Incognito will donate 20 tickets, food vouchers and custom t-shirts for military families, allowing many to attend their first-ever Bills game.

Carolina Panthers

RON RIVERA (Head Coach)
Coach Rivera, whose father served 32 years in the Army, frequently visits military bases in the Carolinas and hosts service members at training camp, practice and on Panthers game days. Rivera was instrumental in creating a unique opportunity for Carolinas-based Soldiers and Marines this past year with the team's first Military Football Fantasy Camp, where soldiers lived a day in the life of a Carolina Panthers player.

Chicago Bears

Throughout the season, Freeman provides tickets to Bears home games to military representatives and their guests as part of his support for the Boeing Military Salute and the Road Home Program. He has donated more than 350 tickets to both the sworn and civilian workforce.

Cincinnati Bengals

KYLE CASKEY (Running Backs Coach)
Coach Caskey, inspired by his grandfather’s legacy of service, has been involved with the Disabled American Veterans charity, which empowers veterans to lead high-quality lives with respect and dignity, and Honor Flight Network, which transports veterans to Washington D.C. to visit memorials dedicated to honor their service and sacrifices.

Cleveland Browns

JOE THOMAS (Offensive Lineman)
For more than five seasons, Thomas has supported military members through the USO of Northern Ohio with Thomas' Troops, a signature gameday program to ensure servicemen and women can enjoy a Browns game with their families. Thomas’ commitment to troops locally and overseas includes a visit to the Middle East through the NFL/USO tour.

Dallas Cowboys

DARREN WOODSON (Former Safety)
Woodson is co-founder of the Warrior Family Network, a non-profit working to help military students on their educational journey and equip them with the knowledge and life skills they need to thrive. The WFN programs address the needs of children in substantially low to moderate-income military families to improve graduation rates, provide financial literacy and core curriculum education services and provide job creation for under-employed or unemployed military.

Denver Broncos

DEMARCUS WARE (Linebacker)
Throughout his 12-year career, Ware has engaged in various capacities with the military community. In addition to his support of the team's Salute to Service outreach in November, Ware continues to proactively organize and participate in military support and outreach on his own in unique ways, including surprising and hosting a military member for a home-cooked Thanksgiving dinner.

Detroit Lions

GOLDEN TATE (Wide Receiver)
Tate established the Golden Future Foundation with a mission to enhance the lives of American Heroes and their families. Through Golden’s annual Stars and Strikes events, surprise military reunions, and annual coat drives, he and his fiancé Elise continue to support our servicemen and women in a variety of ways.

Green Bay Packers

TOM BAKKEN (Assistant Equipment Manager)
During the 2001-2002, Bakken restored military flyovers as part of the Packer’s opening ceremonies at Lambeau Field. He’s now the primary coordinator for flyovers and is responsible for scheduling and hosting military members who perform at pregame ceremonies. Tom was instrumental in arranging the team’s overseas tour to visit troops following their 2011 Super Bowl victory.

Houston Texans

BRIAN CUSHING (Linebacker)
Cushing established The Brian Cushing Foundation to provide resources and experiences to Houston-area veterans and their families through community outreach programs. Through the foundation, Cushing, who took part in the USO-NFL trip to Germany and Kuwait, and his wife host annual events, including the Texans and T-Bones, to bring together military members and Texans players.

Indianapolis Colts

McAfee has a long-standing commitment to the military. He founded the Pat McAfee Foundation to provide scholarship assistance to the children of military service members. Additionally, Pat is involved with numerous military non-profit organizations, most notably Wish For Our Heroes to which he has donated well over half a million dollars throughout his NFL career. This past year, McAfee participated in the first USO/NFL team-themed tour and spent a week visiting service members stationed in Japan. He also hosted several comedy shows with proceeds benefitting Wish For Our Heroes and participated as a Colts Community Ticket Block sponsor for the fifth consecutive season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

BLAKE BORTLES (Quarterback)
Bortles dedicates his time to the Jacksonville military community, organizing numerous efforts to get to know service members and their families on a personal level. The Oviedo, Fla. native will help kick off the team’s Salute to Service week, visiting Naval Air Station Jacksonville and honoring servicemen and women by taking a tour of their facility, taking pictures and signing autographs.

Kansas City Chiefs

In recognition of his father's military service efforts, Johnson spends his time working with many military-based initiatives. He’s helped raise funds for initiatives tied to the Chief’s annual Red Friday efforts to benefit Ft. Riley's Wounded Warriors Transition Battalion, whose mission is to establish conditions for healing and promote timely return to the force or transition into a productive veteran within the community.

Los Angeles Rams

JEFF FISHER (Head Coach)
Each home gameday weekend, Coach Fisher, who took part in the inaugural NFL-USO Coaches Tour in 2009, hosts a Wounded Warrior at team’s practice and game. In May 2011, Fisher was part of a team that climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to generate awareness for Wounded Warrior Project and the organization's mission to honor and empower Wounded Warriors. He also donates a portion of the proceeds raised at his annual Jeff Fisher and Friends Celebrity Softball Game to the Wounded Warrior Project. 

Miami Dolphins

JAMIE QUADROZZI (Senior Manager, Game Entertainment & Cheerleaders)
Quadrozzi has organized 14 Armed Forces Entertainment Military Tours for the Miami Dolphins, allowing our Cheerleaders and Dolphins Legends the opportunity to visit and thank our armed forces stationed overseas. She has also volunteered as an Honor Flight guardian, escorting a WWII veteran to Washington D.C. to visit a memorial dedicated to their service and sacrifices.

Minnesota Vikings

Locke, who was born at an Air Force base in Germany, annually visits the VA Medical Center around Veterans Day. For the last two years, he’s participated in the Tee It Up For The Troops "longest day of golf" charity event. 

New England Patriots

JOE CARDONA (Long Snapper)
Cardona is an Ensign in the US Navy and works as a staff officer at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Rhode Island. Cardona also helped to lead a free football clinic for military families at Naval Station Newport this past April.

New Orleans Saints

DREW BREES (Quarterback)
Brees currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Brees has proudly participated in five USO overseas tours, and he and his wife, Brittany, partnered with the K9s for Warriors program, which is designed to pair up service K9s with those who served in the military post 9/11.

New York Giants

MIKE SULLIVAN (Offensive Coordinator)
Coach Sullivan is a former West Point Cadet and US Army Ranger. His leadership and dedication to service and the organization are profound. His positive presence with the team has changed players, coaches and front office.

New York Jets

ERIC DECKER (Wide Receiver)
Decker and his wife, Jessie, established the Eric and Jessie Decker Foundation to positively impact the lives of U.S. military service members and veterans, as well as animals. The foundation is committed to service to those who have served us via Deckers Dogs, which helps fund the rescue, care and training of service dogs for military veterans returning home with physical disabilities and emotional challenges and supports Freedom Service Dogs of America.

Oakland Raiders

JON CONDO (Long Snapper)
Condo’s passion for supporting the military stems from family ties as both of his grandfathers served in World War II and his brother-in-law, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, served in the Army. Condo supports the community and Raiders’ military partners, including the Sentinels of Freedom, a nonprofit organization that assists severely wounded and injured post 9/11 veterans in their efforts to become productive and self-sufficient members of their communities as they transition back into civilian life. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Smolenski has organized numerous events for military members to meet and interact with Eagles players, including Madden tournaments with soldiers stationed overseas and serving meals to disabled veterans. During each Training Camp, the Eagles host a Military Appreciation day in partnership with the USO and invite more than 500 military members.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Villanueva, a West Point graduate, is a former Army Ranger who achieved the rank of Captain, and has participated in several events and appearances honoring fellow military personnel and veterans, including Heroes at Heinz Field that brings a group of veterans to the Steelers’ stadium to watch players run drills and spend time with them. 

San Diego Chargers

Lissemore, whose family has a long history of military service, is one of the team's most dedicated community service volunteers when it comes to working closely with the men and women of the armed forces. Whenever there is a team event in conjunction with the military, Lissemore is one of the first to volunteer to represent the team. 

San Francisco 49ers

To celebrate our country's servicemen and women, Garrett has participated in numerous military appreciation events over the past few years, including Fleet Week. He also helps facilitate annual disaster preparedness training between the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and local first responders. 

Seattle Seahawks


Kearse, who grew up on a military base, established the 15 to 1: The Jermaine Kearse Foundation with a mission to support and inspire youth in military families to work hard, persevere and believe in themselves in order to overcome adversity and find success through positive choices, experiences and opportunity.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CLINTON MCDONALD (Defensive Tackle)
McDonald is from a family with a long history of military service, including his grandfather, a Korean War veteran, his father and uncle, both Vietnam War veterans, and his brother who is active duty Air Force. McDonald served as the honorary guest speaker at the Buccaneers second annual General H. Norman Schwarzkopf Military Family of the Year Awards, which honors the families of active duty military members from each branch of service. McDonald also honored Wounded Warriors at the 2016 Invictus Games, hosted in Orlando. Additionally, at this year’s Military Day during Training Camp, he dedicated extra time, post-practice, to greet and thank service members and their families, pose for pictures, and sign autographs.

Tennessee Titans

STORMI WAGLEY (Alumni Cheerleader)
Wagley is a proud military spouse, mother, and caretaker. Stormi served on the homefront while her husband fought on the front lines with multiple overseas combat tours of duty. She also served as a USO volunteer and has been on a NFL/USO overseas tour.

Washington Redskins


Dockery and his wife, Emma, launched Yellow Ribbons United in 2012. The organization strives to close the gap between military service and civilian responsibility encouraging Americans to move beyond the gratitude they have for our military’s service to actively expressing their appreciation through civic and social action. Through the organization they are able to bring together the community to support military members, their families. Dockery also partners with Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors’ Good Grief Camps to help children of fallen service members. 

About USAA

The USAA family of companies provides insurance, banking, investments, retirement products and advice to 11.8 million current and former members of the U.S. military and their families. Known for its legendary commitment to its members, USAA is consistently recognized for outstanding service, employee well-being and financial strength. USAA membership is open to all who are serving our nation in the U.S. military or have received a discharge type of Honorable - and their eligible family members. Founded in 1922, USAA is headquartered in San Antonio. For more information about USAA, follow us on Facebook or Twitter (@USAA), or visit

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NFL: Catherine Boyle,

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