The Armed Forces Merit Award is presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) in conjunction with the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl (BHAFB). The award recipient is officially announced annually on Veterans Day. The award is presented to an individual and/or a group who has 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 is 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 & College Hall of Fame and USA Football. The nominee’s “contribution" is 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 Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl Merit Award is also evaluated on evidence and examples of the following attributes.
• Authentic, Reliable, Motivating, Enthusiastic, Determined
• Fair, Organized, Respectful, Committed, Effective, Selfless
2012 Winner – Nate Boyer, University of Texas
Nate Boyer, a deep snapper for the Texas Longhorns last fall and the Big 12 Sportsman of the Year, was named the inaugural winner of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) last November.
Boyer, who played in UT's final 12 games as the snapper on PAT/FGs and earned first-team All-Big 12 Academic honors, earned his degree last spring with a 3.85 grade point average in physical cultural and sports. He also was the recipient of the 2012 Disney Spirit Award, given annually by Disney Sports to college football’s most inspirational figure.
The first recipient of this award hails from Oak Ridge, Tennessee and is a former member of the Green Beret Special Forces unit, serving time in Afghanistan. He spent fall evenings watching the Longhorns late at night while on his tour of duty and those games gave him the inspiration to move to Austin after his tour and attend Texas to play football. He is still a member of the Texas National Guard and spent last summer assigned to a NATO Special Forces unit in Afghanistan.
A seven-person panel made up of FWAA members and representatives from the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth picked Boyer from a group of 15 nominations.
The Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) consists of the men and women across North America who cover college football for a living. Founded in 1941, the membership includes journalists, broadcasters and publicists, as well as key executives in all the areas that involve the game. The FWAA works to govern areas that include game day operations, major awards and an All-America team. Through its web site, the FWAA works to improve communication among those who work within the game. The FWAA also sponsors scholarships for aspiring writers and an annual writing contest. Behind the leadership of president Lenn Robbins of the New York Post and executive director Steve Richardson and a board of veteran journalists, the FWAA continues to grow and work to help college football prosper at all levels. There are now over 1,200 members. More information can be found at www.sportswriters.net.