At the end of each year, the writers at Morris Sussex Football meet in a conclave in MSF’s headquarters and spend hours pouring over game tape, player stats, our own notes and the feeling in our guts. The purpose is to identify players that took the field with the most heart, game in and game out. We don’t leave until we’ve vetted all possibilities. When the white smoke emits from the roof, that indicates to our fans that The All Unruly Team has been selected…either that or call the fire department!
Being selected for all-county is cool. Making all-state is nice. But the biggest honor for players in Morris Sussex schools is the nomination to the ALL UNRULY TEAM!
HOWEVER, this year, we’ve sweetened the pot. Every spring, for the last twenty years, the Greater Morris County Chapter of the National Football Foundation has quietly presented one football player from each school in Morris County with a Scholar Athlete Award.
As much the All Unruly Team nomination is an honor for our players, the National Football Foundation’s Scholar Athlete Award may mark the pinnacle of their football careers.
What is the Scholar Athlete Award?
The Scholar Athlete Award is given to young men who exhibit excellence on the field, in the classroom and in their communities. At last year’s award dinner Matt Sellitto, chapter president of the Morris County Chapter of the National Football Foundation, said, “While newspapers are quick to report when a young person in our community makes a mistake, our organization honors these young men for the great people they are.”
When are scholar athletes announced?
Scholar Athletes are nominated by their athletic directors and coaches in the spring. In March the National Football Foundation hosts a dinner for the year’s Scholar Athletes and their families at the Madison Hotel. That National Football Foundation gives each athlete a tuxedo to wear, a dinner to eat, and a night to reflect on their work on and off the field.
What about Sussex County schools?
Ahh…here is where it gets good! For the last nineteen years this chapter of the National Football Foundation only honored players from Morris County schools. But, because Morris Sussex Football’s Laura Byrne and I are board members, we’ve successfully petitioned to expand the chapter’s footprint to include the schools that MSF covers, including North Warren and Hackettstown (that are technically are not in Morris or Sussex counties). So this year, the twentieth year of this chapter’s existence, the National Football Foundation’s Scholar Athlete Award will be expanded, and one player from each school in Morris Sussex Football’s footprint will earn this great honor.
How does the National Football Foundation raise funds for this honor?
Great question! This is where it gets even better for fans of MSF! Every February, on the Thursday after Superbowl Sunday, the National Football Foundation hosts Sports Nut Night, also at the Madison Hotel. This is a clean, fun night of games, prizes and an interview session with some of our famous board members including former New York Giants Bart Oates and Scott Brunner, former president of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority and former Rutgers AD Bob Mulcahy, along with other local celebrities.
Our adult MSF readers will also have an opportunity to attend this fundraiser and sit at the table with Laura Byrne and myself to talk high school football while enjoying great food and company. I’ll send details about this fundraising event as we get closer.
The football season won’t end after the final state championship game is played. It will be just the beginning! First, we’ll have the All-Unruly Awards, which will come out around the holidays. Then, in March, the Greater Morris County Chapter of the National Football Foundation will announce its Scholar Athlete Award honorees, which will include all schools in Morris Sussex Football’s footprint!