Chiefs nominate legendary LB Bobby Bell for NFL’s Salute to Service Award

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The Kansas City Chiefs have nominated franchise legend and former linebacker Bobby Bell for the 2021 NFL Salute to Service Award. The annual award is a collaboration between the NFL and USAA that recognizes NFL players, coaches, personnel and alumni who’ve dedicated time to honoring and supporting the U.S. military.

Here is why the team chose to nominate Bell for the award (via NFL Press Release):

“Bobby Bell is considered by many to be the greatest outside linebacker to ever play the game. However, it is the time Bell has spent off the field with those who have protected our country that has him nominated for the 2021 Salute to Service Award. Bobby Bell initiated his support of the military during his playing days in the 1960s and early 70s. In January of 1968, Bell was part of just the third edition of the NFL’s USO tour. Bell and the NFL contingent arrived in Vietnam on the same day the Tet Offensive initiated. It took the United States’ General Commander in Vietnam at the time nearly 20 days to safely evacuate Bell and the other USO Tour participants. However, the uncertainty about precisely when he might be able to return state side did not temper his desire to visit with and share good will to the troops stationed there. After his visit to Vietnam, Bell continued to spend time with active military personnel including various good will tours to Lebanon, the Panama Canal, and more. Each time, Bell’s charisma lifted spirits and created smiles on the faces of those he encountered. Following his playing days, Bell continued to engage with members of the military, including his regular travels to Whiteman Air Force Base in nearby Johnson County, MO.”

A seventh-round pick in the 1963 AFL draft, Bell never missed a game in 12 seasons with the Chiefs. He was one of the most dominant players in franchise history, winning Super Bowl IV with the team. He became the first Chiefs player ever inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame back in 1983. He has long remained connected with the franchise and is an active member of the surrounding community, paying special attention to the United States military.

“One thing that has always been a priority for me is to visit with the brave men and women of the United States military. After all, I just lined up and played football. They put their lives on the line every day for us,” Bell said via press release. “Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it. It flies with the last breath of each soldier who died protecting it. . . It is that sentiment that will forever leave a lasting impression on Chiefs Kingdom.”

Finalists are scheduled to be revealed in January, and the winner will be recognized at the NFL Honors primetime awards special to air nationally during Super Bowl LVI weekend. The USAA and the NFL will both provide a donation to the award recipient’s military charity of choice.

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