College Football Greats Honored at 56th Annual NFF Dinner

Howard Goldin

New York, NY---Despite all of its recognized attributes, the City of New York has never been known as a hotbed of college football. But in the final month of 2013, college football aficionados are focusing their attention on a variety of events in New York.

On November 30, Fordham University hosted its first FCS playoff game, and to the delight of its fans, easily defeated Sacred Heart University.

Two weeks later, on December 14, the 2013 Heisman Trophy will be presented to the player voted as The Outstanding football Player of the Year. Two nights later, the Marriott Marquis will be the site of the annual Heisman Trophy Dinner.

The kickoff of the 4th New Era Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium is scheduled for noon of December 28. This year’s contest is expected to attract the event’s largest crowd as Notre Dame will face Rutgers at the iconic baseball venue in the Bronx. In addition, many players on both squads will be present at several public and press events during the week preceding the game.

The history, importance and influence of the sport in the lives of its participants were recognized at the 56th Annual Awards Dinner of the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Football Hall of Fame at the Waldorf Astoria on December 10.

The NFF, founded in 1947 by General Douglas MacArthur, Army coach Red Blaik  and journalist Grantland Rice, not only supports and honor intercollegiate competition but raises funds to do much more and uses football to build character. At the dinner, $300,000 in postgraduate scholarships was awarded.

NFF President Steve Hatchell spoke to the attendees of football’s influence, “This sport transforms the lives, opens doors and instills the characteristics in our young people that make our country great.”

The honors presented were for accomplishments on and off the field. An exceptionally prestigious award, the William V. Campbell Trophy as scholar-athlete of the nation, was given to John Urschel of Penn State. The winner explained his view of the unity of sports and scholarship, “The notion of a student-athlete succeeding both on and off the field is alive and relevant. The pairing of athleticism and education is not just reasonable but necessary.”

General Ray Odierno, the U.S. Army Chief of Staff, followed a large list of renowned recipients of the Distinguished American Award, including Bob Hope, Tom Brokow and General James Van Fleet. Odierno exclaimed, “Football leads to leaders of character and sports give to men and women an opportunity to serve and contribute.”

The Gold Medal, previously won by seven U. S. presidents, a Supreme Court Justice and 28 corporate CEO’s and Chairmen, was presented to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell was not the only link to the NFL honored on Tuesday night as many of the 12 players inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame had distinguished NFL careers after their college graduations. Names such as Tedy Bruschi, Ron Dayne, Danny Wuerffel and Vinny Testaverde are as familiar to NFL fans as they are to followers of the college game. The newest group of inductees raised the total in the Hall to nearly 1,000. The two coaches inducted increased their representation in the HOF to more than 200.

Those unable to attend the magnificent event were able to follow it on ESPN3. Those desiring additional information regarding the National Football Foundation, see www.footballfoundation.org.