FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. – While they're no longer playing games, the Falcons still might add one last chapter to the 2017 season. In fact, they have a chance to make a little history off the field.
Falcons return man Andre Roberts was one of the three finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service Award, the league announced Thursday. Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera and former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Mularkey are the other two finalists for the award presented by USAA.
Should Roberts be named the winner of the award on Jan. 31, during the week of Super Bowl LII, it would mark the second year in a row that a member of the Atlanta Falcons has won the Salute to Service Award – and for the first time in NFL history, back-to-back recipients would come from the same team.
"Giving back to the military is very important to me because of the freedoms and liberties they allow us to have. I'm proud to be a part of an organization, in the Atlanta Falcons, that goes above and beyond to support our military. It's pretty special to my family and other military families, that the Falcons and the NFL set a stage to express gratitude to our veterans and active duty military members," Roberts said.
Falcons coach Dan Quinn received the Salute to Service Award last season for his work with the military community and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Roberts has also been involved with TAPS, choosing to honor the organization for the NFL's My Cause, My Cleats initiative this season.
The NFL's Salute to Service program hits close to home for Roberts, because his appreciation for the military began exactly there – in his home. Both of Roberts' parents served in the U.S. Army – his father finishing as a command sergeant major and his mother as a first sergeant.
Although he didn't enter the military like his parents, Roberts chose to attend college at The Citadel, one of only six senior military colleges in the U.S., where he starred as a wide receiver, set numerous school records and was named a two-time All-American.
Roberts' experiences growing up has helped him become a leader not just on the football field but in the community as well.
During the league's Salute to Service Week, Roberts joined long snapper Josh Harris at a local VA Medical Center to give thanks to the veterans located there. He also spends his summers helping to host football camps for the children at military bases, such as the one he held at Little Rock Air Force Base in June.
Roberts is a man who understands the value in serving others, and it is his selflessness and compassion that has made him a finalist for the league's Salute to Service Award.
"The biggest thing I'd say is it's not always about the money," Roberts said while receiving the Falcons' own Salute to Service Award in December. "The biggest thing you can give somebody is your time. If you can give somebody your time, show your support, it always helps."