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NFF Board Makes Impact on Capitol Hill with Launch of the Congressional College Football Caucus
NFF and its board of directors broke new ground yesterday, Sept. 14, officially launching the bipartisan CCFC during an event in Washington, D.C.
Published: 9/15/2016 2:20:00 PM

The National Football Foundation (NFF) and its board of directors broke new ground yesterday, Sept. 14, officially launching the bipartisan Congressional College Football Caucus (CCFC) during an event at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

Several members of the NFF Board played critical roles in yesterday’s launch, including NFF Chairman Archie Manning, NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell, Arizona State Vice President for University Athletics Ray Anderson, Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby, CBS News legal analyst Jack Ford, College Football Hall of Fame inductee Thom Gatewood, GE Chairman & CEO Jeff Immelt, Southeastern Conference Commissioner Greg Sankey, U.S. Congressman Roger Williams (R-Texas) and North Carolina State Athletics Director Debbie Yow. All the NFF board members playing key leadership roles attended except for Manning, who was prohibited from traveling because of recent elbow and back surgery, but he delivered a video message.

“Whether it is instilling a desire to compete or learning about teamwork and leadership, college football provides one of the best vehicles for preparing future generations to lead our nation,” said Manning in the video message. “College football has provided a powerful opportunity for people from all walks of life to continue their educations, and it is imperative that we ensure its future."

The event attracted a standing room only crowd for CCFC’s bipartisan launch, co-chaired by Williams and Congresswoman Terri Sewell, D-Ala. Williams, who has served on the NFF Board since 2008 and played high school football, worked closely with Manning, Hatchell and the rest of the NFF Board to establish the presence for college football community on the Hill.

“We had an amazing event yesterday,” said Hatchell. “Our board believes passionately in promoting the value of the game, and they understand the importance of connecting with the members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs to share information. It is so important that the leaders of the college football community have a voice on Capitol Hill and that Congress has a full understanding of the issues that face our sport. We want to thank all the NFF Board members who played a role yesterday in making this happen.”

The goal of the CCFC is to educate members of Congress and the public on the vital role that college football plays in our country, while ensuring that the opportunities created by the more than $5 billion in scholarships at all levels of play are preserved as a transformative vehicle for student-athletes to further their education.

Members of Congress who attended included Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., Ted Deutch, D-Fla., Jeff Duncan, R-S.C.,Jimmy Duncan, R-Tenn., Cresent Hardy, R-Nev., Steny Hoyer, D-Md., Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., Gary Palmer, R-Ala., and Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., and Williams. Derrick Dockery, who played at Texas and is currently an aide to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also attended. Several of the members played in college, including Palmer (Alabama), Duncan (Clemson) and Westerman (Arkansas). Other members who support the caucus and played in college, included Ryan Zinke, R-Mont. (Oregon), Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah (Brigham Young), and Mike Bishop, R-Mich. (Michigan).

NFF Corporate Partners Herff Jones and PrimeSport provided key support for the event, and key representatives from the College Football Playoff, Division I-A Athletics Directors, NFL, and Nike attended. Ford, who played defensive back at Yale and has served on the NFF Board since 2000, emceed the event and Bowlsby, Immelt, Sankey and Williams joined Hall of Fame Coach Barry Switzer on the dais, making remarks.

“I spend all my time on GE. I love my company, but when I have any spare time I spend it on football,” said Immelt. “Football has had a massive impact on me and the hundreds of thousands of young men that learn competitiveness and teamwork from the game. I’ll do whatever I can to protect the future of football. My best teachers growing up were coaches and they taught me the value of hard work. More importantly, when I think of football and my company, I ask myself, ‘what is the heart of a competitive American?”

“I tell my company that you need to fear nobody,” he said. “We can compete with anybody in any corner of the world. We have all the tools that are acquired to do it. Somewhere along the line the athletic spirit we have helps us to be more competitive, and football is a major factor in that, and it is worth protecting.”

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