JJacksonville Jaguars offensive tackle Tony Boselli was today named the team's 1997 True Value/NFL Man of the Year in recognition of his community involvement and talents as a professional athlete. Previous winners include former Jaguars cornerback Vinnie Clark in 1995 and punter Bryan Barker last year.
Established in 1970, the True Value/NFL Man of the Year Award was created to recognize the commitment of NFL players to public service. It is the only NFL-sponsored award honoring players for the outstanding balance they achieve between professional and civic responsibilities.
Each year NFL clubs nominate three players for the award, which is determined by True Value retailers nationwide. Defensive end Jeff Lageman and offensive tackle Leon Searcy were nominated this year along with Boselli last June. Each team winner receives $5,000 from True Value and becomes a finalist for the national award which is presented annually at the Super Bowl. The national winner receives an additional $25,000 donation and the distinctive Gladiator statue created by sculptor Daniel Schwartz. Last year's overall winner was Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green.
The Boselli Foundation, which Tony founded with his wife Angi in 1995, is the recipient of this year's $5,000 award. The Foundation was established to provide opportunities for all children, especially those with limited financial resources, to reach their full academic and athletic potential. Helping children become champions at home, at school, and on the playing field is the focus of all programs provided by The Boselli Foundation. Since 1995 the Foundation has helped numerous agencies in Jacksonville, including the Ronald McDonald House, Down Syndrome Association, Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs and the YWCA to name a few.
Successful Foundation programs include the annual holiday Shop with a Jock event and the Most Valuable Teacher Award (M.V.T.) Aside from awarding grants to numerous local agencies which serve underprivileged youth, Shop with a Jock pairs 100 at-risk children with professional athletes, giving them a chance to spend time with positive role models for an evening while they shop for loved ones and experience the joy of giving. This year's program is scheduled for early December.
The annual M.V.T. Award honors teaching and coaching excellence in public schools in the Jacksonville area. The 1997 M.V.T. winner was First Coast High School's Martin Lee, who received a $6,000 grant to enhance his teaching and coaching programs. The other two finalists each received $2,000 grants for their school programs.
Aside from his Foundation initiatives, Tony is also active visiting local elementary schools, churches, visiting children at area hospitals and with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.