A customary "game ball" following a victory is as old as football itself, reserved for only those who made a difference when everything was on the line.
The Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity and equality in job opportunities in the NFL, deemed Kansas City Chiefs' Head Coach Andy Reid worthy of such an honor with their annual "Game Ball Award" last week in Indianapolis.
The award recognizes Reid's contributions to furthering opportunities for minority candidates in coaching, front office and scouting roles.
"I am so honored to be here, this is awesome, and to have the opportunity to get this nice trophy is just icing on the cake," Reid said. "This is really what it's all about and why we're all in this business. We're all in this thing to be teachers and to help people in their life along the way. I'm grateful for the Fritz Pollard Alliance and the great job that they do."
The example set by coaching legend Bill Walsh, one of the Fritz Pollard Alliance's biggest advocates before passing away in 2007, was paramount in shaping Reid's life – both as a coach and as an individual.
"The thing I want you to understand about Andy Reid is that he followed the course from one of the greatest coaches of our time in Bill Walsh," said John Wooten, Chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance. "Walsh was extremely supportive of what we were trying to do in terms of minority coaches and front office executives, and Andy Reid has followed that."
In addition to Walsh, Reid cited Wooten, Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt and Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney as those who are making diversity a priority in the NFL.
Reid has a long history of promoting minority candidates to positions of higher authority, doing so as recently as this offseason with the hiring of Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
"Coach has been a great role model and a great inspiration for a lot of different people," Bieniemy said. "When you think about all the different people that have coached underneath him and gone on to become head coaches or all the players that have had tons of success under him...he teaches you a lot, he respects the opinions of different people and he gives you the opportunity to be yourself. As a coach, as a person and as a mentor, he's one of the greatest people that you'll ever get to know."
It's a way of doing things that's caught the attention of the Fritz Pollard Alliance.
"We try to honor special coaches or people that we feel represent all that we look for in this game of life, and at the end of a game, the guy that gets the game ball has really done something special," Wooten said. "That's what we think Andy has done."