Allen Park — Detroit Lions coach Matt Patricia has been selected as one of three finalists for the NFL's Salute to Service award, given out annually to recognize exceptional effort to honor and support U.S. service members, veterans and their families.
The other finalists for the award, which will be presented at NFL Honors on Feb. 1, are Atlanta Falcons CEO Steve Cannon and former Chargers and Chiefs linebacker Donnie Edwards.
Since Patricia joined the Lions in 2018, the team has partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). The organization is one of nine funded through the team's social justice initiative, Detroit Lions Inspire Change.
Additionally, Patricia utilized the league's My Cleats, My Cause program to recognize the Word of Honor Fund, which provides ongoing support to surviving family members of deceased Navy SEALs and Special Operations personnel.
"This is an organization that really is all about keeping the promise, and I think that is really important for me," Patricia said in December. "I have a lot of personal relationships and friends with people in the organization and obviously people that the organization helps. It’s really a great thing to be able to be there and to assist in helping those people that are trying to keep the promise facilitate those great events and be there for everybody. I think they do a lot of really good things, and certainly it’s – those situations we want to make sure that those loved ones are not lost or forgotten. We’re trying to help establish that support even though they’re not here."
Throughout the 2019 season, Patricia regularly hosted military friends at both home and road games, allowing them to take part in team meetings and view practice. He welcomed 25 families from the TAPS program when the Lions played the Dallas Cowboys in November.
Cannon, the Falcons CEO who runs the day-to-day business side of the franchise, is looking to be the fourth consecutive member of the franchise to win the Salute to Service award.
The winner of the award will receive a $25,000 donation in their honor by USAA, the presenting sponsor.