The NFL and USAA announced Baltimore Ravens Legend Jarret Johnson, Chicago Bears tight end Jimmy Graham, and Denver Broncos fullback/tight end Andrew Beck as finalists for the 11th annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
Johnson, Graham, and Beck demonstrated exceptional effort to honor and support members of the military community. The Salute to Service Award recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards show airing live Thursday, February 10 at 9 p.m. ET on ABC from the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles.
"From advocacy and support to our currently serving military to ensuring our veterans successfully transition with employment after their service as well as supporting military children, all three finalists for the 11th annual 'Salute to Service Award presented by USAA' should be recognized for their commitment to America's military community," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA senior vice president of military affairs. We thank and deeply appreciate Jarret, Jimmy, and Andrew for joining USAA in always honoring and serving our military, veterans, and their families, and encourage all Americans to follow their lead in participating in acts of service and support for our military."
The Salute to Service Award is part of USAA and the NFL's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military community. This season, NFL clubs nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel, who best demonstrated support for the military community.
USAA will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient's honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches. The NFL will match USAA's donation of $25,000, which will be donated to the award recipient's military charity of choice.
The NFL announced nominees in November and the submissions were evaluated by a panel of judges, including last year's award recipient, Atlanta Falcons/AMB Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Cannon. Nominees' credentials are evaluated based on the positive effect of the individual's efforts on the military community, the type of service conducted, the thoroughness of the program and level of commitment.
The panel of judges, consisting of representatives from the U.S. military, the NFL and USAA, includes:
Since 2011, USAA has used its sponsorship to honor and appreciate active-duty military, veterans, and their families by creating unique opportunities that bring the military community and the NFL closer together.
Below is an overview of the three finalists. To learn more about the Salute to Service Award presented by USAA, please visit www.nfl.com/salute.
Jarret Johnson (NFL Legend, Baltimore Ravens)
As an active player, and since his retirement from the NFL in 2015, Ravens Legend Jarret Johnson has demonstrated a constant commitment to honoring military personnel and their families. With the goal to employ veterans, Johnson recently partnered with a service-disabled Air Force veteran to start a Black Rifle Coffee franchise in Niceville, Florida. Johnson is an annual sponsor of SOF Missions, a 501c(3) non-profit that provides care to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) with the goal of ending veteran suicide. Johnson regularly provides leadership development and positive motivation to the Army's 7th Special Forces Group (SFG) through various speaking engagements, basic range shooting events, fishing trips, veteran family cookouts and frequent participation in grueling physical workouts with Special Forces A-teams. Johnson has also invited several Legends to attend and speak to senior Special Forces members at a leadership retreat hosted by the Army's 6th Ranger Training Battalion at Camp Rudder, Florida.
Jimmy Graham (Tight End, Chicago Bears)
Jimmy Graham continues to support those who serve and have served in the United States military. The mission of The Jimmy Graham Foundation is to provide life-changing and impactful experiences through the freedom of flight, to recognize the accomplishments and sacrifices of veterans of all eras and to provide flights for unfamiliar and underprivileged youth as an introduction to aviation. The Jimmy Graham Foundation has also partnered with Luna Cafe in Wisconsin to sell the "Huey Blend" coffee, which supports The Jimmy Graham Foundation. Additionally, he donated tickets to each 2021 Bears home game for the Bears' Boeing Military Salute honoree. During every game, an extraordinary service member was recognized in-game. He also donated to cover the costs of all 250 Thanksgiving boxes distributed to veterans supported by Midwest Veterans Closet at a November event with the Bears and included notes that he personally signed.
Andrew Beck (Fullback/Tight End, Denver Broncos)
Denver Broncos tight end Andrew Beck's dedication to serving the military became evident soon after joining the organization during the 2019 season. Over the past three years, he has partnered with America's Gold Star Families, Buckley Space Force Base, Fort Carson Army Base, Freedom Service Dogs, TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), USO Colorado, VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System, and Volunteers of America: Colorado and Wounded Warrior Project. In total, he's reached more than 425 military families through his strategic outreach. Despite cancellations, protocols and restrictions, Beck refused to let the pandemic impact his commitment to support the military. In November of 2020, he assembled Salute to Service care packages for military bases across Colorado and helped host a virtual visit with Wounded Warrior Project veterans. As a son of an Army colonel, Beck knows firsthand the sacrifices military families make to serve our nation. He chose to represent America's Gold Star Families for My Cause My Cleats in 2019 and 2020, auctioning off his cleats to raise funds to sponsor America's Gold Star Families' annual 5K Run/1 Mile Walk for Fallen Heroes. In 2021, Beck expanded his support for the military by partnering with Freedom Service Dogs of America on multiple initiatives. For My Cause My Cleats, Beck supported Freedom Service Dogs' Operation Freedom program, which helps veterans and active-duty military find a new level of confidence and independence with the help of specially trained service dogs. In addition to auctioning his cleats to raise funds for the program, Beck has volunteered multiple times over the past few months with Freedom Service Dogs to meet with veterans paired with service dogs and help socialize puppies for future therapy and service dog placement.