The NFL and USAA, an official NFL Salute to Service Partner, named RON RIVERA, Head Coach of the Washington Commanders, as the recipient of the 2022 Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The award was created to acknowledge the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support members of the military community.
Rivera will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special airing nationally on Thursday, Feb. 9 at 9 PM ET / 8 PM CT on NBC, NFL Network and Peacock from Symphony Hall in Phoenix, Arizona. USAA, a leading provider of insurance, banking and other financial services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in Rivera's honor to the official aid societies representing each of the military branches. The NFL Foundation will match USAA's donation of $25,000, which will be donated to Rivera's military charity of choice.
"During his time as an NFL head coach, Ron Rivera has set the standard for military appreciation, helping educate an entire generation of NFL community members on the importance of supporting our military, veterans, and their families," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) JOHN BIRD, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "Having grown up in a military family, Coach Rivera understands sacrifice and what it means to serve, and we thank him for carrying his service of our military forward, as we honor him as the recipient of this year's Salute to Service Award presented by USAA."
Rivera attributes his success in the face of adversity to his military upbringing and values instilled in him growing up the son of a career U.S. Army Warrant Officer. Having grown up on military installations around the United States and across the world, Rivera fully understands the demands of military life and the sacrifices made by service members and their families. Throughout his 12-year career as a head coach, Rivera has been committed to giving back to the military and veteran communities. He consistently connects his teams with service members and military families to recognize their service and sacrifice.
In May, Rivera, Commanders players Jonathan Allen and Jamin Davis, and Co-Owner and Co-CEO Tanya Snyder surprised departing troops with a visit at BWI Airport where the team passed out care packages to troops as they waited to board their planes. Rivera also took time in training camp to visit with over 250 service members and veterans at the club's Salute to Service Day. Additionally, he brought the entire team to Joint Base Andrews for a practice in front of the troops before the first preseason game and hosted nine wounded/paralyzed veterans at Operation Warrior Wishes in Training Camp.
Rivera hosted Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) families at the OrthoVirginia Training Center at Commanders Park for the second year in a row, creating a special event to honor surviving families. He is also donating all the proceeds from his appearances on the league wide SiriusXM NFL Radio channel to the United Service Organizations (USO). Through Rivera's persistent work alongside multiple military-related non-profits over the years, he has used the NFL's platform to provided service members, veterans and military families with first class recognition, experiences and support.
"It is a tremendous honor to be selected as the Salute to Service Award recipient. I humbly accept this award on behalf of my father, Eugenio Rivera, who served as a Warrant Officer in the United States Military for 32 years. Having grown up in a military household, I experienced the sacrifices that military members and their families must make firsthand, and I have always wanted to use my platform to raise awareness and assist the great men and women of our armed forces and their families," said Ron Rivera. "I am thankful that the NFL has put an emphasis on bringing awareness to the ways we can support the men and women who fight for our freedom. I want to thank the Washington Commanders for dedicating significant resources in support of the military and in giving myself and our team numerous opportunities to do our part to show our troops that we support and care about them."
The 32 nominees were released in November and consisted of active and retired players, coaches, and team executives and personnel who best demonstrated support for the military community. New this year, fans helped choose the three finalists, which were determined by a consensus vote of fans, an NFL internal committee and USAA. Nominees were evaluated on the positive effect of their 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 community, the NFL and USAA, includes:
- VICE ADMIRAL JOHN BIRD (Ret.), U.S. Navy veteran, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs
- LENNY BANDY, U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and NFL Vice President of Security
- CHAD HENNINGS, U.S. Air Force Academy graduate, three-time Super Bowl champion
- JIM MORA, SR., U.S. Marine Corps veteran, former NFL head coach
- ANDREW BECK, Denver Broncos Tight End and 2021 Salute to Service Award recipient