The Jacksonville Jaguars have been honored with a 2004 Pop Warner/NFL Team of the Year Award. This is an award created to honor National Football League clubs for their service to Pop Warner football and cheerleading programs.
"This recognition is very rewarding for our organization," said Jaguars Chairman and CEO Wayne Weaver. "We have been very committed to youth football in this area, and we appreciate what Pop Warner and other organizations do to promote football with young people. Bahati Van Pelt of our staff has done an excellent job of directing our youth football initiatives, and he is instrumental in our selection for this honor.
"I also want to thank Dennis Connors and his staff's efforts with the Junior Jaguars Bowl, as well as Bo Reed and our special events department," Weaver added. Connors is the President of the Greater Jacksonville Pop Warner Association and serves on the Board of Directors for the Junior Jaguars Bowl.
The award is one of the many new additions to the Pop Warner program to help commemorate the 75th year anniversary of the organization. The award will be presented annually to "clubs in the National Football League (NFL) that have demonstrated unparalleled commitment and support of Pop Warner Little Scholars programs both locally and nationally."
This isn't the first award that the Jaguars organization has received from Pop Warner, however. In 2001, Jaguars Chairman and CEO Wayne Weaver was honored with the Warner Award, which is named after Glenn S. "Pop" Warner and presented to an individual who has achieved excellence in athletics, scholarship, and life's endeavors with integrity and humanity. Weaver was presented with the prestigious award at the 41st Annual Pop Warner Scholar All-American Banquet in Phoenix, AZ.
This past year, the Jaguars have shown their commitment to the development of youth football in the Greater Jacksonville area in several different ways. Many of the players, coaches, and staff made extra efforts in 2003 to reach the children of Pop Warner programs through events such as the Junior Jaguars Bowl, charitable contributions, appearances, and various other activities.
In 2003, the Jaguars held the eighth consecutive Junior Jaguars Bowl, an annual event featuring members of the Greater Jacksonville Pop Warner League and teams from several other states. This event features Pop Warner participants ages 8-14, with an incredible 2,700 players, cheerleaders and families fielding 70 different teams this past year. Each participant must sign a pledge card with their parents, committing to not to use tobacco, alcohol or illegal drugs in order to participate. The Jaguars also awarded over 1,200 tickets to Pop Warner players and coaches throughout the season to attend individual Jaguars home games.
In addition to hosting the Junior Jaguars Bowl, the club has also given away football practice and field equipment and recently announced they will fund a new football field in Jacksonville's Mary Lena Gibbs Park as the result of a $100,000 grant from the NFL Youth Football Fund, a $150 million fund established by the NFL and the NFL Players Association to support youth football. New fields such as these provide Pop Warner programs with opportunities to compete on first class facilities.
"The Jacksonville Jaguars have been longtime supporters of Pop Warner Little Scholars" said Joel Balthaser, director of public relations and scholastics for Pop Warner. "We established this award to honor NFL clubs who have generously dedicated their time and support to our programs across the nation, and the Jaguars were a noticeable and deserving recipient."
The 2004 Pop Warner-NFL Team of the Year awards will be presented to the Jaguars at the 44th Annual Pop Warner Scholar All-American Banquet on Saturday, May 29, 2004 at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL. Recipients of this award will be selected annually from both the AFC and NFC. The 2004 NFC recipient is the Carolina Panthers.