The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service partner, announced the 2021 nominees for the eleventh annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with demonstrable commitment to honoring and supporting military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.
Finalists are scheduled to be announced in January, and the recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally the week of Super Bowl LVI.
"Now more than ever, it's essential that our nation come together to support and show appreciation for those Americans who are serving and have served our country, as well as their families," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "This year's nominees for the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA all deserve special recognition for stepping up to support our military community, and we are encouraged to see this list of diverse nominees coming from all areas of the NFL organization."
Last year's recipient was Steve Cannon, CEO of the Atlanta Falcons' parent company AMB Sports and Entertainment. Cannon will serve on the award panel and vote to select the 2021 Salute to Service Award recipient.
As the presenting sponsor of the Salute to Service Award, USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other financial services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the recipient's name to official aid societies representing all U.S. military branches. The NFL will match USAA's contribution by donating an additional $25,000 to the awardee's military or veteran charity of choice.
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military and veteran community. Each year, the NFL and its 32 teams come together to honor, empower, and connect with members of the military as part of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative. The league's military appreciation efforts culminate in November with NFL Salute to Service games and other special events honoring and thanking veterans, active-duty service members and their families.
Below is the 2021 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA nominee for the Houston Texans:
HOUSTON TEXANS CHEERLEADERS
The Houston Texans organization has a proud tradition of honoring those who serve, and one of our greatest ambassadors for the cause is the Houston Texans Cheerleaders. The Texans Cheerleaders have always dedicated their time and talents to honoring service members. Since the beginning, the Cheerleaders have supported causes such as the USO, Wounded Warrior Project, Operation FINALLY HOME, T.A.P.S., Tuesday's Children and many others. In 2019, the Texans Cheerleaders traveled overseas with Armed Forces Entertainment headlining the Salute to Service Super Bowl 10-day Tour that visited the Al Dahfra Air Force Base in United Arab Emirates, bases in Qatar and Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti. The tour featured the Houston Texans Cheerleaders along with four Texans Legends who performed 60-minute shows. The Cheerleaders spent what little free time they had getting to know the service members and their stories, going on base tours, going through simulation exercises, playing flag football and sitting down to listen as they spoke about their friends and families back home. Women veterans is a cause that is of particular importance to the Texans Cheerleaders. Prior to the pandemic, Texans Cheerleaders and alumni of the Texans Cheerleaders program volunteered with The W.A.V.E. Campaign, a women's veterans service organization, to package and distribute much-needed undergarments, pajamas and comfort items to women receiving treatment in the VA Hospital. Each time the military needs support, the Texans Cheerleaders are there. Last year during the pandemic when players were not doing appearances, the Cheerleaders kept playing a critical role in the organization's continued support of the military. Events included visiting the USO Center at Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport to deliver meals to service members and volunteers, stepping up to distribute turkeys and Thanksgiving meals to 150 families at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base, providing lunches for National Guard and Army Reserve troops coming home from the Capitol in January, and welcoming back 120 service members from a nine-month overseas deployment.
Houston Texans Cheerleaders came out to NRG Stadium to celebrate the Houston Texans Foundation for the Texans Care game presented by Chevron, perform with Rev Run and DJ Ruckus and cheer on the Houston Texans.