March 26, 2007 - On Thursday, April 12, James Brown, host of CBS Sports' "THE NFL TODAY," along with Michael Wilbon of the Washington Post and ESPN's "Pardon the Interruption," will honor some of the NFL's biggest heroes at the NFL Players Gala featuring the JB Awards, an annual awards presentation benefiting Special Olympics D.C. For the fourth consecutive year, the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) and PLAYERS INC, the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFLPA, have partnered with Brown to recognize NFL players for their individual contributions to their communities with the JB Awards.
"I am privileged to once again join efforts with the NFLPA and PLAYERS INC in their annual tradition of honoring NFL players for their off-the-field achievements," said Brown. "It is a great honor to be involved in an event that brings together positive role models and makes a difference in the lives of the men, women and children of Special Olympics D.C."
JB Award recipients were nominated by their teammates upon the end of the season for their commitment to achieve excellence off the field through building better communities and stronger families. Out of the 32 players nominated (one per team), Brown personally selected the following 10 players to receive a JB Award: Darnell Dinkins (Cleveland Browns), Donald Driver (Green Bay Packers), John Lynch (Denver Broncos), Ryan Nece (Tampa Bay Buccaneers), Shaun O'Hara (New York Giants), Chad Pennington (New York Jets), Duane Starks (Oakland Raiders), Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins), Grant Wistrom (Seattle Seahawks), and Renaldo Wynn (Washington Redskins). As in years past, award recipients attending the Gala will participate in a panel discussion.
The surprise of the evening will be the presentation of the prestigious 41st annual Byron "Whizzer" White Award, chosen from among the 10 JB Award winners listed in the paragraph above. The winner will be selected by an independent, celebrity panel of judges which includes SAG Executive Director Doug Allen, Washington Mystics President Sheila Johnson, and George Michael of NBC4's the "George Michael Sports Machine." The "Whizzer" White Award is presented annually to the player who serves his team, community and country in the spirit of Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White. The late Supreme Court Justice was a scholar, athlete, patriot, humanitarian and public servant - the personification of the ideal to which professional football players aspire.
In addition to these award recipients, Brown also presents special JB Awards to recognize the personal accomplishments of others around the NFL. Honorees to receive individual JB Awards include Marshall Faulk (St. Louis Rams) - National Service; Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts) - Perseverance; Everson Walls (Retired) - Compassion; The New Orleans Saints - Community Dedication; and the late Lamar Hunt (Kansas City Chiefs) - Executive Leadership.
"The recipients of these prestigious awards are a small representation of the hundreds of NFL players who donate their time, energy and resources to give back to their communities," said Gene Upshaw, executive director of the NFL Players Association. "They are leaders in the locker room and role models for our youth."
New this year, D.C. Special Olympics athletes will have the opportunity to join NFL players for an extraordinary Football Clinic held the morning of the gala. The clinic will feature more than 50 local Special Olympics athletes participating alongside NFL player-honorees in five friendly, non-contact football stations. The NFL players will interact with the athletes and help demonstrate a variety of offensive and defensive skills, including passing, receiving, and kicking.
The gala and surrounding activities will be filmed for a one-hour television special set to air in August. Reebok is the presenting sponsor of the NFL Players Gala, which is also sponsored by PricewaterhouseCoopers, EA Sports and Snickers.
Since the awards banquet was founded in 1972, the NFLPA and PLAYERS INC have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to several worthy causes, and Special Olympics D.C. has benefited from the event for 12 consecutive years.
A host committee of local business leaders was first formed two years ago to collectively strengthen the efforts of the gala. Last year, more than $1 million was raised to benefit Special Olympics D.C. To purchase a table of 10 for $5,000, please call 202-496-2893. For further information, visit www.NFLPLAYERS.com/gala.
About Special Olympics:
Special Olympics DC (SODC) is the sole provider of sports and fitness training, competition and health screenings for people with intellectual disabilities in the District of Columbia. SODC provides everything needed to deliver a high quality athlete experience while offering life-changing programs to some of the District's most vulnerable citizens. The goal of SODC is to create opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to demonstrate courage, experience joy and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics Athletes and the community. The NFLPA and NFL PLAYERS have significantly impacted the programs of SODC, with generous financial support for more than a decade.
About Players Inc:
Formed in 1994, PLAYERS INC is the licensing and marketing subsidiary of the NFL Players Association. Representing more than 1,800 active and many memorable retired NFL players, PLAYERS INC "takes the helmets off" the players and markets them as personalities as well as professional athletes. Through an exclusive sponsorship agreement between the NFL and PLAYERS INC, NFL players are integrated into NFL sponsor activation programs through PLAYERS INC. In addition, under an exclusive agreement between the NFL and PLAYERS INC, NFLPLAYERS.COM, PLAYERS INC's official website, is part of the NFL Internet Network. Each year PLAYERS INC negotiates and facilitates more than 3,500 player marketing opportunities for NFL players. PLAYERS INC activities include retail licensing, corporate sponsorships and promotions, special events, radio and television projects, publishing and internet. For more information, please visit NFLPLAYERS.com.