Amid all the focus on misdeeds and misconduct of NFL players this year, it is important to emphasize that these behaviors are aberrational and not the norm. The definition of news is not dog bites man, it is man bites dog. Reading the daily recitation of drunk driving and bar fights involving players, coaches and executives can create the impression of sports gone haywire -- yet these incidents represent a minuscule percentage of the enormous pool involved with the league.
This is why I thought it was important to create an award that recognized the community and charitable service that characterizes the typical lives of people involved with professional football. Along with my partner, Cosmo DeNicola, we will be presenting the Steinberg-DeNicola Awards for Humanitarian Service at my 28th annual Super Bowl Party in Phoenix at the Science Museum on Saturday afternoon Jan. 31 Proceeds from a silent auction will go to benefit the awardees' causes, and local beneficiaries will attend.
The Owner’s Award with go to Woody Johnson of the New York Jets. Johnson has dedicated time and resources to try and improve the system of public health in this country and is a role model for community service. The Team Executive Award will go to Dennis Hickey, general manager of the Miami Dolphins. Hickey has been a stalwart support of the Special Olympics Program. The combination of pro football and these valiant young athletes is a natural.
The Coaches Award is being given to Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams. Fisher has given vigorous support to the Wounded Warriors Project. Honoring and providing resources to the courageous soldiers defending our freedom is the least we can do as a society.
The Players Award recipient is Jonathan Babineaux, defensive lineman and team captain of the Atlanta Falcons. Babineaux has a foundation which has donated to over 84 community causes. He has provided laptops to needy toddlers, donated a computer lab to a group home and helped kids with prosthetic limbs.
I have helped athletes retrace their roots for the past 40 years, build programs at the high school, collegiate and professional level that have targeted specific ills and raised more than $800 million for causes. The NFL as a league, through its teams, execs, coaches and teams, consistently makes a positive impact in the community. This is the good news.
-- Leigh Steinberg has represented many of the most successful athletes and coaches in football, basketball, baseball, hockey, boxing and golf, including the first overall pick in the NFL draft an unprecedented eight times, among more than 60 first-round selections. His clients have included Hall of Fame quarterbacks Steve Young, Troy Aikman and Warren Moon, and he served as the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire." Follow him on Twitter @leighsteinberg.