Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn and Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Alejandro Villanueva have been named as the two finalists for the sixth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, the NFL's Official Military Appreciation Sponsor.
The award will be presented at the NFL Honors event, broadcast on Saturday night, Februrary 4th. Since that's the night before Super Bowl LI, Quinn will likely be a little distracted as he prepares to coach the Falcons against the New England Patriots in the big game.
Viewers will recognize West Point grad and former Army Ranger Villanueva from the USAA commercials that have run during almost every game this season. He's gone from free agent walk-on to one of the NFL's best lineman.
Coach Quinn hosts “Military Day” at Training Camp and 20 military members at each Atlanta Falcons home game throughout the season. In an effort to continue to make his impact greater among the military community, Coach Quinn provided a special opportunity for families of fallen soldiers with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), hosting 63 families at the Atlanta Falcons Salute to Service game on November 27.
Air Force veteran and USAA AVP of Marketing Don Clark gave us a rundown on the Salute to Service program last fall.
USAA will contribute $25,000 in the winner’s honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The award recipient will receive a specially designed military challenge coin, recognizing their commitment to the military.
“Since joining the NFL to launch Salute to Service in 2011, USAA has been proud to recognize leaders in the NFL community who honor the service and sacrifice of our nation’s military,” said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA’s senior vice president of military affairs. “With Alejandro Villanueva serving our country as an Army Ranger and continuing his military appreciation efforts today, and Dan Quinn dedicating his community service in the name of military appreciation and support, these individuals are extremely deserving finalists for this year’s Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.”
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), Rocky Bleier (U.S. Army Vietnam veteran, four-time Super Bowl champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers), Chad Hennings (Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion with the Dallas Cowboys), Vincent Jackson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver and 2015 Salute to Service Award recipient), Tod Leiweke (NFL Chief Operating Officer), Jim Mora, Sr. (Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach) and Roger Staubach (Naval Academy graduate, NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl MVP with the Dallas Cowboys).
Previous Salute to Service Award winners are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Vincent Jackson (2015), the Chicago Bears' Jared Allen (2014), Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (2013), the Chicago Bears' Charles Tillman (2012) and late Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. (2011).