The best of the best will suit up on Sunday as the NFL will hold its pair of Conference Championship Games to determine the matchup for Super Bowl XLIV at Sun Life Stadium on February 7. With just a quartet of teams still alive and the Super Bowl only days away, the NFL is approaching its annual pinnacle.
But as the NFL prepares to honor the team that has performed the best at the game’s highest level, it’s also recognizing those who had the earliest influence on the individual players that comprise the world’s greatest professional sports league – high school football coaches.
The NFL has announced the finalists for its annual NFL Football High School Coach of the Year Award, an honor that began in 1995 and aims to recognize coaches who profoundly impacted the athletic and personal development of NFL players.
Vikings K Ryan Longwell nominated his high school coach – Craig Walker of Bend Senior High School in Bend, Oregon – and he was among the 5 finalists named on Thursday.
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 NFL Youth Football Fund grant for his high school football program.
Longwell credits Coach Walker for helping him develop his mental edge, a trait that is especially important for kickers.
“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.”
Tags: Ryan Longwell
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