Campbell Trophy winner Zach Terrell, Archie Manning, Chancellor Bill McRaven and the 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class headlined the night's honorees.
NEW YORK (Dec. 6, 2016) – Serving as hallowed ground for college football’s royalty for nearly six decades, the iconic Waldorf Astoria Grand Ballroom in New York City ended a historic 58-year run tonight with the celebration of the 59th National Football Foundation (NFF) Annual Awards Dinner. Next year, the fabled event will move to the New York Hilton Midtown as the Waldorf begins a three-year renovation project.
An illustrious College Football Hall of Fame class took center stage at the event during their formal induction, and 12 of the game’s current-leading student-athletes collected $223,000 in postgraduate scholarships as NFF National Scholar-Athletes. The festivities culminated with the announcement of Western Michigan’s Zach Terrell as the recipient of the 27th William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by Fidelity Investments, as the top football scholar-athlete in the nation.
Tonight marks the end of an era. The First NFF Annual Awards Dinner took place in 1958 at the Hotel Astor in New York City. The following year, the event moved to the Waldorf Astoria, which has hosted the gala ever since. Now, the unbroken 58-year chain between the National Football Foundation and the Waldorf Astoria will experience a pause.
A packed house of 1,600, including more than 80 current collegiate head coaches and 40 returning Hall of Famers attended the event, and the annual celebration lived up to its historic role of bringing the college football community together at the end of the regular season to pay tribute to game and its greatest legends.
NBC’s Mike Tirico entertained the crowd as the evening’s emcee, and NFF Board Member and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had the honor of introducing all of the universities in attendance. Daniel Rodriguez returned to sing the National Anthem and God Bless America, while His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York, gave the invocation.
“The NFF Annual Awards Dinner continues to grow in both size and prestige each December,” NFF President Steve Hatchell said. “Those in the room tonight care deeply about the game, and the event captured why football matters. This sport transforms lives, opens doors and instills the characteristics in our young people that make our country great. When you listen to the accomplishments of the night’s honorees, you know that the future of our sport remains bright.”
The 2016 College Football Hall of Fame Class boasted 14 First-Team All-Americans, two coaches, one unanimous First-Team All-American, seven consensus First-Team All-Americans, four multi-year First-Team All-Americans, four conference player of the year honorees and two NFF National Scholar-Athletes.
The 2016 class was introduced by NFF Board Members Archie Griffin, a Hall of Fame running back from Ohio State, and Grant Teaff, AFCA Executive Director Emeritus and Hall of Fame Coach. Members of the class included Marlin Briscoe (Nebraska Omaha), Derrick Brooks (Florida State), Tom Cousineau (Ohio State), Randall Cunningham (UNLV), Troy Davis (Iowa State), William Fuller (North Carolina), Bert Jones (LSU), Tim Krumrie (Wisconsin), Pat McInally (Harvard), Herb Orvis (Colorado), Bill Royce (Ashland [Ohio]), Mike Utley (Washington State), Scott Woerner (Georgia), Rod Woodson (Purdue) and coaches Bill Bowes (New Hampshire) and Frank Girardi (Lycoming [Pa.]). NFF Chairman and Hall of Fame inductee Archie Manning (Mississippi) conducted the Official Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony.
The 14 players and two coaches bring the total number of players in the Hall of Fame to 977 and the number of coaches in the Hall to 211. Cunningham, who finished his career as UNLV’s leader in both career passing and punting, delivered the response on behalf of the class and touched on the journey of the inductees.
“When we start off playing Pop Warner, we play and we just want to be a starter,” said Cunningham. “We go to the next level, we go into high school, and then we want to be a starter again and all-conference. The next thing you know, we get an opportunity to play in college…and the next thing you know we’re recruited to a major D-I university…Then we set higher goals to make it to the NFL.
“By the time we’ve played five, 10, 15 years, we’ve played for a few different teams and then we’re retiring and riding off into the sunset…Then there comes a time when you receive a phone call saying they want to put you in the College Football Hall of Fame. I am so grateful tonight on behalf of all the inductees tonight…It’s about a group of people who they said were good enough that we want to put you in the Hall of Fame.”
The 2016 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments, joined the Hall of Famers on stage. Comprised of 12 of the most talented and brightest football players in the nation, each member of the class received an $18,000 postgraduate scholarship and was a finalist for The William V. Campbell Trophy. Kathleen Murphy, NFF vice chairwoman and president of Personal Investing at Fidelity Investments, led the presentation of the awards, while NFF Chairman Emeritus Jon F. Hanson had the honor of presenting the Campbell Trophy to Western Michigan quarterback Zach Terrell.
A First-Team Academic All-American and three-time All-MAC selection, Terrell is Western Michigan’s career leader in passing yards. The Broncos will play in the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic this season after he guided them to an undefeated regular season, the 2016 MAC title and its first-ever ranking in the AP Poll. Terrell graduated cum laude in 3.5 years with a 3.66 GPA in finance, and he is currently working toward an MBA. Winning the Campbell Trophy increases his postgraduate scholarship to a total of $25,000.
“A lot of people told me I couldn’t do what I’ve done, whether that’s get a college scholarship or be the starting quarterback on the team or lead an undefeated team to a MAC Championship,” said Terrell. “But here I am today. I’ve always carried that around with me…it’s because of that is strived to do everything, whether it’s school, in the community or on the field, with all that I have as if I’m doing it for the Lord. I’m honored to accept this award and want to thank the National Football Foundation for this amazing experience. Thank you again, God bless and row the boat.”
The rest of the 2016 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class included Chris Beaschler (Dayton), Tim Crawley (San Jose State), DeVon Edwards (Duke), Brooks Ellis (Arkansas), Carter Hanson (Saint John's [Minn.]), Taysom Hill (BYU), Ryan Janvion (Wake Forest), Zay Jones (East Carolina), Cooper Rush (Central Michigan), Karter Schult (Northern Iowa) and Tyler Sullivan (Delta State [Miss.]).
NFF Board Member and TV personality Jack Ford presented the Gold Medal, the organization’s highest and most prestigious award, to Archie Manning. An All-America quarterback at Ole Miss, a Pro Bowl player with the New Orleans Saints and a College Football Hall of Fame inductee, Manning charted a successful post-football career, including roles as an investment broker, broadcaster, restaurateur, endorser, community leader and philanthropist. He joined the NFF Board of Directors in 1993, and he became NFF Chairman in 2007, leading the Foundation to new levels of success. Manning touched on the game of football.
“I can’t say it more clearly than this, Football Matters,” said Manning. “Focus on the fun, celebrate the joy of playing, the camaraderie of the team, knowing that every effort and everyone on that team matters…Whether you stand on the sidelines, cheer from the stands, interact on a smart phone or gather around the television for the national championship, football is America’s game. It’s up to us to be realistic, but by no means timid, as we imagine and build its future. Thank you very much for this heartfelt honor.”
NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell presented the 2016 Distinguished American Award to William H. McRaven, the chancellor of the University of Texas System and a retired U.S. Navy four-star admiral. McRaven secured his place in history by tracking down some of the world’s most notorious terrorists, and he has impacted military lives at home through the creation of the Preservation of the Force & Family initiative. Since 2015, he has brought his exceptional leadership skills to the University of Texas System. The son of a football player, McRaven touched on the lessons he learned from his father and the importance of the game to our country.
“I’m convinced that the game and how we play it is more important today than ever before,” said McRaven. “We are a nation that needs football. We need to raise men that are tough and not afraid to get hit…We need men that don’t feel entitled who must work every day to earn their reputation. We need men who are humbled by others’ talents but confident in their own strengths. We need men who know the value of teamwork and above all else, we need men who respect the game and all it represents to the American people.
“As crazy as it sounds, I believe the future of this nation may very well rest with the future of this sport. It will rest with you, the players, the coaches, and the fans to ensure that the American people always see the importance of the struggle of the gridiron.”
Mike Tirico introduced the other major award winners. College Football Hall of Fame coach and AFCA Executive Director Emeritus Grant Teaff accepted the NFF Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award for his enormous impact on the game. U.S. Naval Academy Athletics Director Chet Gladchuk received the NFF John L. Toner Award, presented by Hofmann Brands, for excellence in athletics administration while the Voice of the Washington Huskies Bob Rondeau was presented with the NFF Chris Schenkel Award for excellence in broadcasting. NFF Board Member and GE CEO Jeff Immelt received the NFF Legacy Award for his dedication and impact on the NFF and football.
Veteran sports broadcaster Bonnie Bernstein hosted the NFF Awards press conference in the morning, which included comments from all of the major award winners, the 2016 Hall of Fame Class and the 2016 National Scholar-Athlete Class. Click here for photos from all portions of the press conference. The press conference also featured the announcement of the North Carolina A&T State running back Tarik Cohen and South Carolina State linebacker Darius Leonard as the MEAC offensive and defensive players of the year, respectively, by conference commissioner Dennis Thomas; the announcement of Texas A&M quarterback Trevor Knight as the recipient of the 2016 Wuerffel Trophy for community service by College Football Hall of Famer and 1996 William V. Campbell Trophy recipient, Danny Wuerffel (Florida); and the announcement of the finalists for the FWAA Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year by FWAA Executive Director Steve Richardson.
College Football Hall of Famer Don McPherson (Syracuse) emceed the NFF Chapter Awards Luncheon, presented by Under Armour. At the event, the five NFF National High School Scholar-Athletes accepted their accolades, and the five winners of the 2016 Chapter Leadership Awards spoke about their passion for strengthening the game for future generations.
The chapter award leaders included Jack Dawson (State of Maine Chapter), Bill Farkas (Passaic County [N.J.] Chapter), Priscilla Kistler (NFFCHOF Bill Dooley [N.C.] Chapter), Jeff Logan (Columbus [Ohio] Chapter) and Tony Ortega (Pasadena/San Gabriel [Calif.] Chapter).
The high school scholar-athletes boasted an impressive list of recipients, including Andrew Griffin (NFF Central Indiana Chapter - currently attending Princeton), Scooter Harrington (NFF DeSantis-McDougall [Conn.] Chapter - currently attending Stanford), Matthew Mitchell (NFF Valley of the Sun [Ariz.] Chapter - currently attending Phoenix College [Ariz.]), John Orr (NFF Middle Tennessee Chapter - currently attending Princeton) and Stephen Spanellis (NFF Greater Baltimore Chapter - currently attending Michigan).
George Sechrist, of the Business Media Group (BMG) based in Indianapolis, produced the event for the fourth time, and ESPN3.com carried the event live.
Sponsors for the day’s events included the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, Delta Air Lines, DragonFly Athletics, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, Hofmann Brands, iSix, New York Athletic Club, The Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, Spielman Koenigsberg & Parker LLP, SportsBusiness Journal, Sports Systems, Under Armour, UPS, VICIS and XOS Digital.
About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame
Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl "Red" Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include FootballMatters.org, the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, The William V. Campbell Trophy presented by Fidelity Investments, annual scholarships of more than $1.3 million and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Herff Jones, Hofmann Brands, New York Athletic Club, Pasadena Tournament of Roses, PrimeSport, the Sports Business Journal, Under Armour and VICIS. Learn more at www.footballfoundation.org.