NFL Salute to Service
USAA became the first Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of a professional sports league in 2011 when the leading insurance provider for the military teamed up with the world’s foremost professional sports property, the NFL. Together, the two sought to elevate military appreciation across the league among players, teams, and fans by launching NFL Salute to Service. NFL Salute to Service occurs around Veterans Day weekend in November, and includes each NFL team hosting a designated Salute to Service home game at which the team honors and appreciates military in their own unique way. Ideated by USAA, every player adorns a military service branch sticker on their helmet in honor of the military. The game also features special camo-ribbon branding and team-specific logos, sideline and coaches gear, and uniform elements.
USAA annually works with several NFL teams during the NFL Salute to Service campaign to honor the men and women who have served and currently serve in the U.S. military by conducting base visits, hosting military at training camps, hosting thousands of military at Salute to Service games, conducting in-stadium card stunts, and enlisting NFL fans demonstrate their appreciation by participating in the Million Fan Salute (www.millionfansalute.com). Fans can offer a salute to the military on behalf of their favorite NFL team. NFL cities with the most salutes will earn rewards for their local military community’s morale, sports and recreation initiatives from USAA.
NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA
The NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA encourages military appreciation by NFL players, alumni, and team personnel who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. The annual award is presented during Super Bowl week and recognized at the NFL Honors awards show the night before the Super Bowl. In addition to the award, a $25,000 contribution is made by USAA in the winner’s honor to the aid societies representing all five military branches.
Teams submit nominations in October, which are evaluated by a panel of judges 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 NFL and USAA, all with military ties, includes:
- Roger Staubach, Naval Academy graduate, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback and Super Bowl MVP
- Chad Hennings, Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion
- Rocky Bleier, U.S. Army veteran, four-time Super Bowl champion
- Jim Mora, Sr., Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach
- Paul Hicks, NFL Executive Vice President, Communications
Tennessee Titans Owner, K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. was named the inaugural winner of the award in 2012. Adams, a veteran of the U.S. Naval Reserve who served during World War II, is a longstanding advocate of servicemen and women across the nation and at nearby Fort Campbell, Ky., and has hosted more than 12,000 troops at Titans games.
Salute to Service Award Winners
- 2012 Charles Tillman
- 2011 K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr.
Salute to Service Display
Each year, NFL fans come together to celebrate the sport, test their athletic skills, and learn more about the NFL at the NFL Experience during Super Bowl week. At the heart of the Experience is a series of exhibits that showcase various league initiatives, including the USAA and NFL Salute to Service display.
The Salute to Service display captivates fans with moving images and videos that tell the story of USAA and the NFL’s military appreciation initiatives and the lives they impact. Fans can learn about marquee players with military ties, why teams wear service branch helmet stickers during Salute to Service, the NFL’s impact on military lives, and the history of the military challenge coin. Videos capture USAA and the NFL’s military appreciation moments, on military bases, game day, and across the league. At the heart of the display is the NFL Salute to Service Award.
Two Long-time Military Supporters Team Up
Now in its third year, USAA is the proud Official Military Appreciation Sponsor of the NFL. USAA and the NFL work together throughout the NFL season to honor and thank the military, and encourage fans to do the same. The following pages from the 2013 NFL Kickoff Guide describe several military appreciation initiatives, as well as highlight NFL players with a personal tie to the military.