The NFL and USAA, an Official NFL Salute to Service Partner, announced AMB Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Cannon, New England Patriots long snapper Joe Cardona, and San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch as the finalists for the tenth annual Salute to Service Award presented by USAA.
Cannon, Cardona, and Lynch were selected for their exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The Salute to Service Award recipient will be recognized at NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally the Saturday before Super Bowl LV.
Cannon's commitment to the military and related causes began with his own personal commitment. Cannon, who graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1986, was Airborne Ranger qualified and served as a 1st Lieutenant in West Germany during the fall of the Iron Curtain. During his time in the Army, he also served five years as an artillery officer.
Through Cannon's countless hours of service to multiple military non-profits over the years, his constant "military first" mindset and utilization of the NFL's platform has provided active duty service members, veterans and military families with first class experiences and support. In addition to empowering and giving back to the military community, Cannon has played a large role in bringing awareness to the general population on the importance of honoring and recognizing our nation's heroes. Through Cannon's military and professional career, he has consistently found ways to implement programs in service to our military, active duty specifically.
Upon joining the Atlanta Falcons organization, he realized the impact of the NFL platform and challenged the club to be "best in class" and to "become the benchmark franchise in all of professional sports" in terms of our military outreach and appreciation. With that challenge, he began to set up major trips each spring following the conclusion of football season that would allow him and the team to get up close and personal with those serving to protect our freedom. And with that, the Atlanta Falcons became the first ever NFL team to conduct their own USO Tour.
USAA, a leading provider of insurance and other services to U.S. military members, veterans and their families, will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient's honor to the official aid societies representing all five 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 award recipient will receive a specially designed military challenge coin, recognizing their commitment to the military. In what has become a long-standing tradition, challenge coins are presented to members of the military community to encourage excellence, boost morale or to recognize a fellow brother- or sister-in-arms.
"America's military community is stronger thanks to the service and support from all three worthy finalists for tenth annual 'Salute to Service Award presented by USAA," said Vice Admiral (Ret.) John Bird, USAA Senior Vice President of Military Affairs. "While two of this years finalist served our nation in uniform, this award is meant to highlight efforts we can all make to support America's military community. We thank and appreciate Steve, Joe, and John for joining USAA in always honoring and serving our military, veterans, and their families."
The Falcons have had three members previously win the league's Salute to Service Award. Former head coach Dan Quinn won the award in 2016, Andre Roberts won it in 2017 and Ben Garland followed that up with a win in 2018.
The Salute to Service Award is part of the NFL and USAA's year-round commitment to recognize and honor the military community. This season, all 32 NFL clubs nominated coaches, active and retired players, and team executives and personnel, who best demonstrated support for the military community.
Steve Cannon, Chief Executive Officer of AMB Sports & Entertainment, has been named the NFL 2020 Salute to Service Award recipient. Cannon has also been named the 2020 recipient of the USO's Patriot Award.