One of the recent Super Bowl’s spectacular weekend events was the annual Bart Starr Award presentation, voted on by NFL players for character and leadership this past season.
Early on Saturday morning, while many visitors were enjoying beachfront festivities, a breakfast audience was impressed with videos and personal presentations.
New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning was honored with the Bart Starr trophy prersented in front of a crowd of 1,500, including brother Peyton Manning, legendary coach Tony Dungy, Packers legend Jerry Kramer and Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz.
“Thank you so much for this great honor,” Eli Manning said in humble opening words. “The loss of Bart Starr last year gives extra significance to today and his memory, and what it really means to be an athlete in action. I love that Peyton and I have become the first brothers to be awarded this incredible honor. That means
Mom and Dad you did something right.”
“It’s also important that this is an award voted on by the NFL players,” he added. “That it’s now my former NFL brothers that gave me the nod. I’m happy to say that there are so many others in the league who deserve to be singled out for the way that they conduct their lives on and off the field. That’s especially true of this year’s finalists.”
The breakfast program included highlights of previous award honorees in addition to remarks from Dungy.
Event sponsors included the Super Service Challenge and First Horizon Bank Foundation.
“Of all the Super Bowl events we activated this past week, hearing about leadership and community involvement at the Saturday Super Bowl Breakfast gave reasons to celebrate before our country viewed the Big Game on Sunday,” said Josh Folds, market president for First Horizon Bank. “The opportunity to hear from legendary NFL players about life experiences that included teamwork and giving back, certainly left an impact on everyone who attended.”
Saturday’s celebration highlighted the success achieved by Eli Manning during his storied career and the announcement of his recent retirement.
“The people who have come before me, starting with Bart Starr himself, are champions in every way,” Manning said. “They show the world what a person’s talents can become when coupled with exemplary character in their home, on the field and in their community.
“In the NFL and in elite sports, reputation, or as it’s called today, a personal brand, gets an awful lot of attention. It often becomes synonymous with who the individual is as a person, and because of marketing, that’s intentional, even if it’s not always totally genuine.”
Bart Starr, who led Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packer teams to the first two Super Bowl championships, died at the age of 85 in May 2019.
“I’ve seen all of Bart Starr’s stats, but the thing that stands out for me the most was his character,” Eli Manning explained. “We only met a few times, but as big as his talent was, it was clear that Bart was the same person in private as he was in public. I imagine him treating Mr. Irrelevant exactly the same as he would a superstar.
“We are human, it’s natural to be charmed by the millions of fans devoted to us, watching us play every game, wearing our jerseys, and calling out our names each week,” Manning added. “Our quest to be the best at our sport is easier to go through life with blinders on. It’s easier to focus on the work that it requires to be the best, and only connect with those who block, tackle, or catch a ball for us. Each of us bears the burden of proving that we’re more than a celebrated football player, of proving what we’ve learned and deeply understanding what teamwork really means. We have to apply those lessons and pay it forward, beyond the field, in our homes, and in our communities.
“When we’ve mastered that as well as we have mastered our favorite play, then we have earned the right to walk in the shadow of Bart Starr.”