In preparation for its 56th National Awards Gala on March 12, the Walter Camp Football Foundation has announced its Major Award recipients.
NFL Hall of Famer and Dallas Cowboys owner, president and general manager Jerry Jones (Arkansas ’65) will receive the Distinguished American award.
The Walter Camp “Distinguished American” award is presented each year to an individual who has utilized his or her talents to attain great success in business, private life or public service and who may have accomplished that which no other has done. He or she may have a record of dedication to mankind that should not pass unrecognized and a life that has been dedicated to the preservation of the American ideal. The recipient need not have participated in football but must be one who understands its lesson of self-denial, cooperation and teamwork, and one who is a person of honesty, integrity and dedication. He or she must be a leader, an innovator, even a pioneer, who has reached a degree of excellence that distinguishes him or her from contemporaries, as well as someone who lives within the principles of Walter Camp.
Jones joins previous recipients of the Walter Camp Distinguished American honor include nationally-respected sportscasters Keith Jackson (1995), Pat Summerall (2004) and Verne Lundquist (2014), all-purpose television personality Regis Philbin (2003), former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue (1994), world-renowned entertainer Bob Hope (1985), former college coach Eddie Robinson (1982), and former NFL standout Archie Manning.
NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys standout wide receiver Drew Pearson (Tulsa ’73) is the recipient of the Man of the Year honor.
The Walter Camp “Man of the Year” award honors an individual who has been closely associated with the game of football as a player, coach or close attendant to the game. He must have attained a measure of success and been a leader in his chosen profession. He must have contributed to the public service for the benefit of his community, country and his fellow man. He must have an impeccable reputation for integrity and must be dedicated to our American Heritage and the philosophy of Walter Camp.
Pearson joins a distinguished list of former “Man of the Year” winners, including Roger Staubach (Navy), Gale Sayers (Kansas), Dick Butkus (Illinois), John Elway (Stanford), Jerome Bettis (Notre Dame), and 2019 recipient Curtis Martin (Pittsburgh).
Two former Walter Camp Player of Year winners – 1991 recipient Desmond Howard (Michigan ’92) and 1996 honoree Danny Wuerffel (Florida ’97) — will share the Alumni Award.
The Walter Camp “Alumni of the Year” award is bestowed on a worthy individual who has distinguished himself in the pursuit of excellence as an athlete, in his personal career and in doing good works for others. He must be an individual who has exhibited dedication and good moral conduct in achieving success. He must be a compassionate and unselfish person who contributes his time and assistance in helping to encourage and comfort fellow human beings less talented and less fortunate than himself. He must be an individual who takes pride in having been a Walter Camp All-American.
Former Alumni Award recipients include including Bo Jackson (Auburn), Tony Dorsett (Pittsburgh), Herschel Walker (Georgia), Tim Brown (Notre Dame), Doug Williams (Grambling State), Larry Fitzgerald (Pittsburgh) and 2019 recipient and member of the Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams Von Miller (Texas A&M).
Jerry Jones – Distinguished American
The owner/president/general manager since 1989, Jerry Jones has led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl titles (XXVII, XXVIII and XXX). In 2014, he was named NFL Executive of the Year and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2017.
A graduate of the university of Arkansas, he was a member of the Razorbacks’ 1964 FWAA College Football National Championship team. Jones graduated from Arkansas in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration, and earned a Master of Arts degree from the university that same year
Aside from being one of just three current owners to guide their franchises to at least three Super Bowl titles, Jones’ efforts in the areas of sports marketing, promotion and the development of AT&T Stadium have created a vivid imprint on the landscape of the NFL and the American sports culture.
On the heels of his recent Hall of Fame selection, Jones was selected as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds in commemoration of Forbes magazine’s 100th year anniversary in 2017. In that same year, he was also recognized for his career contributions to sports in America by being named the 2017 recipient of the Sports Business Journal’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Prior to his enshrinement in Canton, USA Today designated Jones as No. 1 on its list of the 100 Most Important People in the NFL in July of 2016.
In 2013, Jones was inducted into the National Football Foundation’s Leadership Hall of Fame, an award which celebrates leadership of a lifetime of success on the field, in the boardroom and in the community. In April 2014, Jones received the prestigious Horatio Alger Award in Washington, D.C. and was inducted as a lifetime member into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. In May 2014, Jones was also recognized with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Pop Warner Little Scholars, Inc.
Jerry and his wife Gene were also named to The Army’s National Advisory Board in April 1998 shortly after being named the organization’s Partners of the Year in 1997. In April 2007, the Joneses served as the honorary chairpersons for The Salvation Army’s National Advisory Organizations Conference (NAOC) that was held in Dallas. For the past 21 seasons, the Jones Family has dedicated the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day halftime show as a national showcase to kick off The Salvation Army’s annual Red Kettle Campaign. The Jones Family received the Evangeline Booth Award in 1999, one of The Army’s highest national community service awards, and have been selected for membership into the prestigious Salvation Army William Booth Society.
Drew Pearson – Man of Year
A native of South River, N.J., Drew Pearson accepted a football scholarship to the University of Tulsa as a quarterback before coverting to wide receiver. Playing in a run-oriented offense, he finished his college career with 55 receptions for 690 yards and five touchdowns. In 1985, he was inducted into the Tulsa Athletics Hall of Fame.
He signed as a undrafted free agent by the Dallas Cowboys in 1973 and proceeded to make the team play the next 11 seasons with the club. Pearson helped the Cowboys to three Super Bowl appearances and a victory in Super Bowl XII in 1978. He was known a “Mr. Clutch” for his numerous clutch catches in game-winning situations, including the Hail Mary reception from Roger Staubach that sealed a 1975 playoff victory over the Vikings.
Pearson was a three-time Pro Bowl honoree, and is a member of the NFL 1970’s All Decade Team. He retired as the Cowboys’ all-time receiving leader (7,822 yards). A member of the Cowboys’ Ring of Honor, Pearson was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2021.
Desmond Howard – Alumni Award, presented by Underwater Construction
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Desmond Howard was a three-sport standout at St. Joseph High School and attended the University of Michigan. During his collegiate career, he set or tied five NCAA and 12 Wolverine record. In 1991, he scored 21 touchowns (19 receiving, 1 punt return and 1 kickoff return) and won the Walter Camp, Maxwell and Heisman Trophy awards.
He was drafted in the first round by the Washington Redskins and played 11 seasons for six teams. A First Team All-Pro in 1996 as he led the NFL in punt return yards (875) and punt return touchdowns (3) for the Green Bay Packers, who won Super Bowl XXXI. In that Super Bowl win against the New England Patriots, Howard totaled a Super Bowl record 244 all-purpose yards and one kickoff return for a touchdown, which earned him Super Bowl MVP honors.
In 2011, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Howard currently works for ESPN as a college football analyst and appears on ESPN College Gameday.
Danny Wuerffel – Alumni Award, presented by Underwater Construction
In 1996, Danny Wuerffel completed 207-of-360 passes for 3,625 yards (an SEC record at the time) for a nation-leading 39 touchdowns as the Gators, under legendary coach Steve Spurrier, won the National Championship by defeating Florida State, 52-20, in the Sugar Bowl.
A consensus All-American, Wuerffel also won the Davey O’Brien (nation’s top quarterback), and Heisman Trophy that year. He was drafted by the New Orleans Saints and played six seasons in the NFL for four different teams. He also played in NFL Europe and led the Rhein Fire to a league title and was named MVP of the World Bowl in 2000.
Following his playing career, Wuerffel began work for Desire Street Ministries, a non-profit organization that seeks to help impoverished neighborhoods through spiritual and community development. In 2005, the All Sports Association of Fort Walton Beach created the Wuerffel Trophy in his honor. It is awarded to the FBS player who best combines exemplary community service with leadership achievement on and off the field.
The Major Award winners will be honored, along with the members of the 2021 Walter Camp All-America Team, Player of Year Kenneth Walker III (Michigan State), Coach of Year Luke Fickell (Cincinnati) and Connecticut Players of Year (Will Levis-Kentucky and Tyler Van Dyke-Miami) at the Foundation’s 56th National Awards Gala, presented by 777 Partners, on Saturday, March 12 at Yale University’s Schwarzman Center.
National Awards Gala tickets are $450 and available at https://waltercamp.org/product/awards-dinner/
Walter Camp, “The Father of American football,” first selected an All-America team in 1889. Camp – a former Yale University athlete and football coach – is also credited with developing play from scrimmage, set plays, the numerical assessment of goals and tries and the restriction of play to eleven men per side. The Walter Camp Football Foundation (www.waltercamp.org,@WalterCampFF) – a New Haven-based all-volunteer group – was founded in 1967 to perpetuate the ideals of Camp and to continue the tradition of selecting annually an All-America team. The Foundation is a member of the National College Football Awards Association (NCFAA). The NCFAA was founded in 1997 as a coalition of the major collegiate football awards to protect, preserve and enhance the integrity, influence and prestige of the game’s predominant awards. The NCFAA encourages professionalism and the highest standards for the administration of its member awards and the selection of their candidates and recipients. For more information, visit the association’s website, www.ncfaa.org