Back in November, the Los Angeles Chargers announced team legend and former linebacker Donnie Edwards as their nominee for the 2019 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
But on Friday, the NFL was proud to announce Edwards as one of three finalists for the award. He is joined by Atlanta Falcons CEO Steve Cannon and Detroit Lions Head Coach Matt Patricia.
Edwards, Cannon and Patricia were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community.
The Salute to Service Award recipient will be announced and recognized at NFL Honors, an awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX.
USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient's honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The NFL will match USAA's donation of $25,000, which will be donated to the award recipient's military charity of choice. The award recipient will receive a specially designed military challenge coin, recognizing their commitment to the military. In what has become a long-standing tradition, challenge coins are presented to members of the military community to encourage excellence, boost morale or to recognize a fellow brother- or sister-in-arms.
"Each having different life experiences and connections to our military, all three finalists for the 'Salute to Service Award presented by USAA' are connected by a shared belief in honoring and showing appreciation to our nation's service members and veterans," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "Steve, Coach Patricia, and Donnie are all worthy finalists and we salute them for their continued commitment to America's military community."
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military community. In October 2019, 32 NFL clubs nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel, who best demonstrated support for the military community. These nominees were publicly announced in November and the submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges, including last year's award recipient, former Atlanta Falcons and current San Francisco 49ers guard Ben Garland. Nominees' credentials are evaluated based on the positive effect of the individual's efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.
The panel of judges, consisting of representatives from the U.S. military, the NFL and USAA, includes:
- Vice Admiral John Bird (Ret.), U.S. Navy veteran, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs
- Chad Hennings, Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion
- Ben Garland, San Francisco 49ers guard and 2018 Salute to Service Award recipient
- Jim Mora, Sr., Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach
- Vincent Jackson, Former NFL player & 2015 Salute to Service Award recipient
- Lenny Bandy, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and NFL Vice President of Security
Since 2011, USAA has used its sponsorship to honor and appreciate active-duty military, veterans and their families by creating unique opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together. Among numerous events this season, USAA hosted "NFL Boot Camps" during training camp with multiple teams and at military installations at home and abroad, where military members competed in drills similar to those used at the NFL Combine, Super Bowl ticket giveaways for military veterans and offering military members the chance to meet NFL players in small groups. Fans can join the NFL and USAA in honoring the military community by visiting NFL.com/Salute.