Football Writers Association of America

About the Armed Forces Merit Award ...

The Armed Forces Merit Award is presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in conjunction with the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (LMAFB). The award recipient is officially announced annually on Veteran's Day. The award will be presented to an individual and/or a group who have created, developed and produced a program within the realm of the sport of football that provides care, concern and support for past or present members of the United States Armed Forces and/or their families.

The Armed Forces Merit Award will be selected by a panel of individuals from the Football Writers Association of America (a minimum of five members) and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (a minimum of two individuals). Nominations will be sought from various groups and associations, including the American Football Coaches Association, The College Sports Information Directors of America, The National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, The National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame and USA Football. The nominee's "contribution" will be assessed by reviewing various items, including the completion of a nomination form, supporting documents and letters of recommendation.

When considering an individual and/or group for the Armed Forces Merit Award, a nomination form must be submitted along with letters of support for the individual and/or group. In addition to their military-based program, the nominee for the Bell Lockheed Martin Forces Bowl Merit Award for will also be evaluated on evidence and examples of the following attributes.

• Authentic, Reliable, Motivating, Enthusiastic, Determined
• Fair, Organized, Respectful, Committed, Effective, Selfless

The Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America in conjunction with the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl will be awarded prior to the playing of the 2014 post-season game at Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, Texas.

As the official bowl game that honors all branches of the United States armed forces, the Armed Forces Bowl (www.armedforcesbowl.com) is owned and operated by ESPN Regional Television, Inc. (ERT). The Armed Forces Bowl was inaugurated in 2003 as the Fort Worth Bowl under corporate title sponsorship from PlainsCapital Bank. After the 2005 game was played without a corporate sponsor, Fort Worth-based Bell Helicopter took over title sponsorship in 2006 as the post-season intercollegiate football game became officially known as the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl. The game has been televised annually on ESPN since its inception with radio coverage provided the past five years by ESPN Radio.

The 2016 recipient ...

U.S. Marine veteran Steven Rhodes, a senior defensive end at Middle Tennessee State University, is the fifth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). Rhodes joined the Middle Tennessee football program after serving five years in the U.S. Marines. Following his enrollment in 2013, the NCAA originally ruled that Rhodes only had two years of eligibility and would have to sit out the 2013 season since he played recreational football on base for a two-year period. After Rhodes’ eligibility story went national on August 18, 2013, the next day the NCAA issued a statement saying Rhodes could play immediately and had four years of eligibility. Since the August 2013 ordeal, Rhodes has played in 47 games at Middle Tennessee with 27 career starts, including nine this fall for the 6-3 Blue Raiders.

The 2015 recipient ...

U.S. Army veteran Bret Robertson, a junior strong safety at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo., is the fourth recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award. After graduating from California (Mo.) High School in 2008, Robertson enlisted in the U.S. Army where he served more than three years. He was deployed to Iraq for one year and received the Army Commendation Medal along with his Purple Heart for his service. A three-season starter for Westminster, Robertson is serving his second season as the captain on a team that has won five of eight games in 2015. After missing his freshman season due to injuries, Robertson has compiled 202 total tackles during his 27-game Blue Jay career with 125 solo stops. He has also intercepted six passes (78 return yards) during his career with three forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, 7.5 tackles for losses and four pass breakups in two-plus seasons.

The 2014 recipient ...

Daniel Rodriguez, a senior wide receiver and special teams player at Clemson University, is the third recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America. Attending college on the GI Bill, Rodriguez was offered a spot on the 2012 Clemson team as a walk-on after coach Dabo Swinney saw a video about the former U.S. Army Sergeant and recipient of the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal with Valor Device for his heroism at Kamdesh.

Brandon McCoy

The 2013 recipient ...

Brandon McCoy, a senior defensive end at North Texas, is the second recipient of Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA). McCoy, who walked-on to the North Texas squad after serving five years (2004-2008) in the U.S. Army where he was discharged on August 19, 2008 after receiving numerous medals for his service time in Iraq, joins Bronze Star winning Green Beret solider Nate Boyer, as recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA. Boyer, a member of the University of Texas football team, was honored on Veteran's Day 2012.

The 2012 recipient ...

Nate Boyer

Created to honor an individual and/or group that has brought distinction and recognition to both their service in the armed forces and the sport of football, Nate Boyer of the University of Texas at Austin has been named the first recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America. Boyer, a long snapper for the Texas Longhorns, and wide receiver Daniel Rodriguez of Clemson University were semifinalists for the Armed Forces Merit Award as a seven-person selection committee made up of five members of the FWAA and two officials from the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl considered 15 nominations for the inaugural award.

For more information ...

Contact Steve Richardson with the FWAA (214-870-6516, tiger@fwaa.com) or Tim Simmons at the Armed Forces Bowl (720-244-6580, bfishinc@aol.com).

Armed Forces Merit Award recipients
• 2012: Nate Boyer, Texas • 2015: Bret Robertson, Westminster (Mo.)
• 2013: Brandon McCoy, North Texas • 2016: Steven Rhodes, Middle Tennessee
• 2014: Daniel Rodriguez, Clemson