Winner to Receive Cash Award, Football Program Grant and Trip to Super Bowl XLIV
As the NFL playoff season unfolds and players use skills they learned on the high school football field, more than 75 players recognized the coaches who helped shape them during their teenage years by nominating them for the 2009 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award. Created in 1995, the award honor coaches who profoundly impacted the athletic and personal development of NFL players.
This year's finalists and the NFL players who nominated them are:
Brother Rice High School
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.
T.J. LANG, Green Bay Packers
Mission Viejo High School
Mission Viejo, CA
NICK REED, Seattle Seahawks
MARK SANCHEZ, New York Jets
St. Ignatius High School
CHRIS HOVAN, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Long Beach Polytechnic High School
Long Beach, CA
WINSTON JUSTICE, Philadelphia Eagles
DESEAN JACKSON, Philadelphia Eagles
Bend Senior High School
RYAN LONGWELL, Minnesota Vikings
Each finalist receives a $2,500 cash award and a $5,000 grant for their high school football programs. The winner, announced during the week of January 25, will attend Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida as a guest of the NFL and receive a $5,000 cash award and a $10,000 grant for his high school football program. All grants will be awarded by the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF).
T.J. Lang of the Green Bay Packers recognized Coach Al Fracassa of Brother Rice High School, writing, "Coach Fracassa was an inspiration to me and every player he's ever coached. He taught me humility and the importance of teamwork." Coach Fracassa was named NFL High School Football Coach of the Year in 1997.
"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. These five finalists have dedicated their lives to teaching young players how to become leaders both on and off the field, and we congratulate them and all high school coaches for the roles they play in helping develop the leaders of our game."
A blue-ribbon committee of sports leaders appointed by the NFL selects the winners. The panel is comprised of JON BUTLER, executive director, Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.; JACK FLEISCHER, veteran sportswriter; SCOTT HALLENBECK, executive director, 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.
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.
To see a complete list of this year's nominees or for more information on NFL Youth Football Fund initiatives, visit www.nflyff.org.