Ray Seals, head coach at Madison High School in Houston, is the 2008 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year, it was announced today. Seals was nominated by two of his former players, Detroit Lions fullback Moran Norris and Tennessee Titans quarterback Vince Young.
Seals and a guest will attend Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa Bay as a guest of the NFL. He will receive a check for $5,000, and a $10,000 grant will be awarded to the football program at Madison High School. All grants are awarded by the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF).
The NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award was created in 1995 by the NFL and its teams to honor coaches who profoundly impacted the athletic and personal development of NFL players. This year, more than 60 NFL players nominated the high school football coaches who helped shape them during their teenage years.
Current NFL players shared their admiration and respect for their former coaches through their nomination essays. Norris called Coach Seals "a great inspiration," adding, "Even though I grew up with two parents, he was like another father. He always guided me right and it wasn't always about football. He wants you to be successful in life." Young remembers Coach Seals as "a great coach who truly has a passion not only for the sport, but for the community he coaches in, the school and the players."
Coach Seals has coached high school football for 44 years, and 198 of his players have received college scholarships during his coaching career. He was among the five finalists for the NFL Coach of the Year award in 2004 and has received the Houston Coach of the Year Award 10 times. His goal with each player is to help them succeed both in sports and in everyday life.
Of his coaching philosophy, Seals wrote, "Teamwork and sportsmanship are a must in athletics as in life. If students are to succeed in a world of diversity, they must learn to compete as a team and exhibit good sportsmanship at all times. They will not win every game, but they must accept the losses with as much respect and dignity as the wins."
A blue-ribbon committee of sports leaders appointed by the NFL selects the NFL High School Coach of the Year. The panel is comprised of Jon Butler, executive director of Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.; Jack Fleischer, veteran sportswriter; Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football; Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association; former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and NFL.com contributor Gil Brandt; and Mike Berg, Tony DeMatteo, Rich Kallok and William McGregor II, all former NFL High School Football Coach of the Year winners.
"Our players come from different backgrounds, regions and life experiences," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The one thing they all have in common is that they received guidance and learned important life lessons from their high school coaches. We commend Coach Seals and the 2008 nominees for dedicating their lives to teaching young players how to become leaders both on and off the field."
Established in 1998 by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the NFL Youth Football Fund seeks to use football as a catalyst to promote positive youth development, support youth and high school football needs nationwide and also ensure the health of grassroots football in future generations. Through the YFF's youth football initiatives and support programs, youngsters are provided with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors.