Earlier today the NFL and the USAA announced the 32 nominees for their tenth annual Salute to Service Award, which is given to “recognize NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community, as nominated by NFL clubs.”
Tight end Jimmy Graham, who is in his first season with the Chicago Bears, is Chicago’s nominee.
Finalists for the award will be announced in January, with the Salute to Service Award winner revealed at NFL Honors, which is the primetime awards special that airs nationally the week of Super Bowl LV.
Here’s Graham’s nomination bio from their press release.
The Jimmy Graham Foundation, revolves around giving back to those who have served. The mission statement 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 provide flights for unfamiliar and underprivileged youth as an introduction to aviation. Jimmy takes up veterans in his two recent United States Army aircraft restorations; a 1957 de Havilland Beaver and 1967 UH1 Iroquois “Huey” helicopter. The Huey served as a part of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company. Both of these aircrafts fought in the Vietnam War and they are the cornerstone of his giving back to our country.
One of Jimmy’s favorite events this year was working with a local Florida veteran who actually served in the 170th in Vietnam as a Crew Chief. It was an honor for Jimmy to hear Vietnam Veteran Steve Crawford share his stories from the past, and reconnect this Crew Chief with a flight in the Huey that shared the skies during his time with the 170th Assault Helicopter Company. The Jimmy Graham Foundation has also partnered with Luna Cafe in Wisconsin to sell the “Huey Blend” coffee that supports The JG Foundation.
Graham has started all nine games this year for the Bears with 35 receptions, 302 yards, and 5 touchdowns.
USAA, the presenting sponsor of the award, will contribute $25,000 in the winner’s name to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The NFL will match USAA’s contribution, with the winner deciding which military charity of choice the additional $25,000 will go to.