Texans owner Bob McNair was honored Wednesday at the 2009 Rotary Lombardi Award Banquet as the first Lombardi Humanitarian Award recipient. The award recognizes McNair's numerous charitable and philanthropic efforts in Houston and beyond.
"We are thrilled at the opportunity to honor Bob McNair for all of the charitable work that he has done to help the community and so many deserving organizations," Vicki Brentin, General Chair of the Rotary Lombardi Award, said. "Like Vince Lombardi, McNair also believes that hard work, sacrifice and discipline lead to success, so it is only fitting that he be our first recipient of this award."
McNair is a long-time admirer of Lombardi, the former Green Bay Packers head coach who won two Super Bowl titles.
"It's a great honor and privilege for me to accept this award," McNair said. "Many, many years ago, before I even called about having an NFL team, my kids were young and I coached youth football for about 10 or 12 years. During that time, I think I read every book that had ever been written about Vince Lombardi. I admired what he had done and how he went about things so much. It applies not only to football, but to everything that we do."
The honor is especially significant to McNair since the banquet benefited the American Cancer Society. In 2007, McNair and his wife, Janice, gave a transformational gift to Baylor College of Medicine to fund the McNair Scholars Program, which recruits top physicians/scientists in the fields of juvenile diabetes, breast and pancreatic cancer and the neurosciences.
"We are quite active in our own Foundation of trying to attack cancer," McNair said. "I hope before long, we'll find an answer to this disease, which afflicts so many of our family and our friends."
The Rotary Lombardi Award is given annually to the nation's top college football lineman – on offense or defense – who best exemplifies the discipline that Lombardi displayed in his many years as a head coach. University of Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was this year's winner.