This weekend, NFL's greatest players, coaches and icons will be recognized at the 101 Awards. NFL Network's Paul Burmeister and Pro Football Hall of Famer James Lofton will be hosting the prestigious event on Saturday night.
"I would say this is one of the elite award ceremonies around the country," Lofton explained. "A lot of team's have individual team award banquets, but this one combines the Kansas City Chiefs, along with the entire National Football League. It's exciting to be co-hosting this event in Kansas City."
James Lofton graduated from Stanford University and was drafted in the first round (sixth overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. He was with the Packers from 1978-1986, until moving to the Los Angeles Raiders (1987-1988), the Buffalo Bills (1989-1992), the Los Angeles Rams (1993) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1993).
Lofton was named to the NFL Pro Bowl eight times, the All-Pro team four times and also played in three Super bowls. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2003 after his 16 seasons with the NFL.
Alongside Lofton will be his co-host, Paul Busmeister, who is in his ninth year of hosting this event.
"It was about nine years ago when Steve Sabol cornered me, in his direct and sincere way, and said that there was a banquet for the NFL in Kansas City in the spring, that it was the best in the country and that I need to get involved," Burmeister said. "I went to host the first year and everything he said was exactly true. The way that Kansas City embraces that event, packs the ballroom and the way they treat it is high class."
This is a unique event, in its 44th year, which NFL players, coaches, legends and civic leaders will attend and hold it in high regard. It is a tradition in Kansas City since 1970, and shows the cities dedication to professional football.
"I think more than anything, it's a tribute to how much Kansas City embraces the NFL, loves the Chiefs and the history of this event," Burmeister noted. "Almost every year, all of the recipients attend and come on stage with their presenter, take a seat and talk to the group. They really open up about what the award means to them and what their presenter means to them. It's access at the highest level that most cities don't get."
This year, the 101 Committee selected Carolina Panthers LB Luke Kuechly as the NFC Defensive Player of the Year.
"I've heard a lot about this event and it's just a great, big time award that I'm honored to win," Kuechly said. "Especially when you look at the other players awarded, there's big names like Peyton Manning and Jamaal Charles, and looking at the past players who have been recognized, it's such an honor to win this award."
The Panthers will be well represented at this event, as Carolina's Head Coach Ron Rivera is the NFC Coach of the Year.
"He's a smart football guy, who has played in the NFL," Kuechly said about the team's head coach. "His biggest thing is just to be able to come into the locker room and chat and hang out with guys. He's very open and is just a great guy who loves coaching football and is very passionate about it."
On the AFC side, Kansas City's very own head coach Andy Reid will be honored as the AFC Coach of the Year.
"Coach Reid took a team that was worst in the league last year and completely turned it around," Burmeister said. "The energy that he brought to the Chiefs building, the positivity, it was there even before the wins were there. The way his coaching staff worked together and the way he led that team, he is deserving of this award on many different levels."
Reid led the Chiefs to an 11-5 record and an AFC wild-card berth in his first season with Kansas City. He helped orchestrate one of the league's biggest turnarounds from two wins in 2012 to 11 in 2013. Reid is familiar with the 101's as he was the 101 NFC Coach of the Year in 2002, while with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Prior to the event, the the Derrick Thomas Award and the Mack Lee Hill Award will be announced.
Kcchiefs.com will have more coverage of the event following the program on Saturday evening, plus, follow me on twitter @KCChiefs_Rachel for behind the scenes photos of the event.