Here’s the press release from the National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame on the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner:
The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame (NFF) released today the following statements on the passing of longtime NFF Board Member and 2002 NFF Gold Medal recipient George M. Steinbrenner III, who passed away this morning at the age of 80.
“George Steinbrenner did so many great things for the National Football Foundation, and we are deeply saddened by his passing,” said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. “He loved the game of football. He played. He coached, and he believed in the scholar-athlete ideal and the lessons learned on the gridiroin. George stood for everything that the NFF represents, and it was truly special to have him on the board because he loved the game so much.”
“I had the privilege of serving on the National Football Foundation board of directors with George Steinbrenner for many years, and his service and commitment to our organization played a significant role in our ability to touch the lives of countless young student-athletes,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “From his playing days at Williams College to his coaching days at Purdue and Northwestern, it was clear that George Steinbrenner was a product of the gridiron. We will miss his passion for giving back to our sport, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.”
A super successful sports businessman as the principal owner of the New York Yankees, Steinbrenner dedicated equal passion to humanitarian and civic causes, including serving on the NFF Board of Directors since 1998.
A longtime friend of the NFF, Steinbrenner attended every NFF Annual Awards Dinner for more than 35 years. In 1997, he endowed one of the prestigious NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards in honor of legendary Hall of Fame Coach Eddie Robinson and in 2003 he became the first and only person to ever endow a second NFF National Scholar-Athlete Award, this time in honor of his longtime friend, coach Lou Saban.
In his competitive younger days, Steinbrenner played football at Culver Military Academy (Ind.) and Williams College (Mass.) Before being called home to help with his family’s struggling shipping business, Steinbrenner’s first career choice was to be a football coach, and he began as an assistant coach at Northwestern coaching lineman for Saban. He then joined the staff at Purdue as an assistant backfield coach under Hall of Fame coach Jack Mollenkopf.
In 2002, the NFF presented Steinbrenner with its Gold Medal, the organization’s highest honor, joining seven U.S. Presidents, four U.S. Generals, three U.S. Admirals, 26 corporate CEOs, and one U.S. Supreme Court Justice as recipients of the honor. The NFF Gold Medal recognizes an outstanding American who has demonstrated integrity and honesty, achieved significant career success and has reflected the values of those who have excelled in amateur sport, particularly football.