Matt Patricia is known for his support of the armed forces, and that support could earn him a major NFL honor this offseason.
Friday, Patricia was revealed to be a finalist for the NFL’s Salute to Service Award, which will be handed out at the Super Bowl. Along with Atlanta Falcons CEO Steve Cannon and former NFL linebacker Donnie Edwards, the Detroit Lions coach is a finalist for the award.
Here’s a look at more about the award from a Fox Sports piece written by the Associated Press, plus what Patricia has done in order to work himself into consideration:
“The award, presented annually by USAA and the league, recognizes exceptional efforts to honor and support members of the military community. The recipient will be recognized the evening of Feb. 1 at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press will reveal its individual award winners.
A panel of judges consisting of representatives of the U.S. military, the NFL and USAA will determine the recipient. On the panel are Vice Admiral John Bird (Ret.); Chad Hennings, who played at Air Force Academy and then won three Super Bowls with Dallas; current 49ers guard Ben Garland, who received the award in 2018; former NFL coach Jim Mora, a Marine Corps veteran; former NFL receiver Vincent Jackson, the 2015 award recipient; and Lenny Bandy, a Marine Corps veteran and the NFL’s vice president of security.
USAA will contribute $25,000 in the award recipient’s honor to the official aid societies representing all five military branches. The NFL will match that donation, which will be given to the recipient’s military charity of choice.
In 2018, Patricia’s first year as head coach, the Lions partnered with the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). Through Patricia’s work with Lions players on the launch of the team’s social justice initiative Detroit Lions Inspire Change, the Lions became the first NFL team to fund scholarship opportunities for TAPS families.
Over the last two years, Patricia and the Lions have hosted and helped fund the Drug Enforcement Agency’s Maltz Challenge, an annual worldwide cross-fit event held in memory of DEA Special Agent and United States Air Force Pararescue man Mike Maltz that honors service men and women lost in the line of duty.”
That’s great work for Patricia, who also grows his beard out in order to show his respects for the folks in the military. It’s clear it is a major commitment for the coach, so he would be very deserving of the honor.
Lions Kept Matt Patricia for 2020 Season
When Lions brass explained their decision to keep the duo in place for 2020, a major reason was seen as continuity, and how things looked before the 2019 season spiraled out of control with injuries and other issues.
As ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported, folks around the league in other front offices and other coaching rooms were extremely complementary of what the Lions were building prior to the bottom falling out this season, and they think the Lions could be on the verge of having a solid team given the changes they’ve made in the last few years.
With this in mind, it makes sense that the Lions would be apprehensive to pull the plug on Patricia after his second season. It’s true the group was doing some very good things prior to the implosion this season, and it’s possible the group is banking on a major resurgence for 2020. Obviously, that will have to be the case or jobs will be on the line.
Will the gamble pay off? That’s yet to be seen.
Matt Patricia’s Lions Tenure
Patricia came to the Lions fresh off success in New England in 2018, and struggled out of the gate to capture the attention of the locker room. A bumpy start paved the way to a more solid finish in 2018 with the team only winning six games, but defeating squads like the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers, which offered hope.
Patricia has helped the Lions stay in games for the most part in 2019, something which the team struggled with in 2018, but has not gotten them over the hump at closing. That’s perhaps his biggest wart so far as a boss, combined with a lousy defense that has not picked up the program whatsoever. Patricia might get more of a pass considering the absurd amount of injuries he’s dealt with, but it’s hard to ignore that in his tenure as coach, the Lions have had the same discipline problems plague them that always have through the years.
The bet was that both Patricia and Quinn get a mulligan on 2019 considering the rash of injuries that have set the team back, while also living with the understanding that 2020 is likely the make or break year for this group.
It might not be what Lions fans wanted to hear, but it always seemed like the likely outcome.
Regardless of his record, Patricia remains a great ambassador for the team and the community. The hope is he can bring home this award for the franchise.