Dec. 10, 2008
Casey Gerald '09 (Dallas, Texas) delivered the keynote address in spectacular fashion for the class of 2008 National Football Foundation (NFF) Scholar-Athletes on a big night for Yale Bulldogs at last night's 2008 NFF and College Football Hall of Fame Annual Awards Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.
Gerald, who was up for but did not win the coveted Draddy Award (California center Alex Mack was the winner), known as the "academic Heisman," delivered the night's most impressive speech (see transcript below) while representing all 15 scholar-athlete recipients. The Bulldog cornerback, who will be honored this Thursday with an award from the New England Sports Writers, also got to meet two of his hometown favorite players in former Dallas Cowboys Troy Aikman and Jay Novacek.
"Being in the same room with such accomplished athletes and Americans, and speaking on behalf of 14 of the most impressive guys I've ever met, will always be among the greatest honors of my life. It was even more amazing to have so many people from the Yale family at the Waldorf to support me and serve as reminders that I wouldn't be there without their investments. It was a phenomenal night for me and Yale football," said Gerald.
Both of Gerald's grandmothers and his sister flew in from Dallas for the 51st NFF Awards Dinner. They sat with Yale Director of Athletics Tom Beckett, former Bulldog football coach Carm Cozza and football association president Pat Ruwe '83 at one of the Yale tables.
Nine Yale players have earned NFF scholar-athlete honors, the last being Ed McCarthy in 2006, while there are 28 Bulldogs enshrined in the NFF College Hall of Fame. However, no player in the 18-year history of the Draddy Award has come from the Ivy League.
No program was better represented than Yale at the gala that gathers the sport's most powerful and influential people.
Linebacker Jordan Haynes '12 (Folsom, Calif.) earned the NFF West Region's High School Scholar-Athlete Award and Dick Galiette (posthumously) received the Chris Schenkel Award for his college football broadcasting career on WELI Radio. Having former player Jack Ford '72, an NFF board member, present the foundation's gold medal award to John Glenn added more Blue to the dais being watched by the 1,600 who packed the hall.
Haynes was one of five NFF high school scholar-athletes from around the country honored at Tuesday's Waldorf Astoria luncheon. He was joined by his grandmother, mother and brother, who all came from California.
Haynes, valedictorian in a highly competitive class of 256 students, tallied an impeccable 4.6 GPA on a 4.465 scale. His many honors included membership in the National Honor Society, the Jesuits Excellence Award, the College of Holy Cross Book Award, and being named a National Merit Scholar. Vice President of the Black Student Union, he participated in student government and the Executive Student Council while serving as a Big Brother during the school's freshman retreat.
A two-time varsity captain, the tenacious Haynes started every game on both offense and defense for his final two seasons at Jesuit, claiming team defensive and team MVP honors. He shattered school records for assisted tackles (123) and total tackles (169) in a season and assisted tackles in a game (26) during his senior campaign. Named the Sacramento Bee's Defensive Player of the Year, he was a first-team selection at linebacker on the all-section, all-metro and all-league teams and played in the Blitz 3 Holiday Classic All-Star Game.
"It was a great experience. To be in the company of all of those people was so special. I felt honored to be there," said Haynes, who played primarily special teams for the 2008 Bulldogs and was most impacted by the senior leadership of Gerald. "Casey was instrumental in my decision to come to Yale. His leadership and mentoring has really helped me this year."
Neither Gerald nor Haynes knew Galiette, who won the Schnekel Award, which is named after legendary network broadcaster Chris Schenkel. The award recognizes a sports broadcaster who has enjoyed a long and distinguished career broadcasting college football at a single institution. A fixture at Yale for more than 30 years, Galiette will forever be remembered as one of the Ivy League's most beloved broadcasters.
Known as one of Yale football's biggest fans, Galiette served as the university's play-by-play announcer from 1963-87 and then again from 1997 until his death in October 2005. From 1964-81, the seven-time Connecticut Sportscaster of the Year also acted as a sports anchor at WTNH-TV and worked as a SportsCenter anchor for ESPN in the early 80s.
The first media member inducted into the Connecticut High School Coaches Association Hall of Fame, Galiette served as the executive director of the National High School Athletic Coaches Association for six years and was the 1968 recipient of the Walter Camp Football Foundation All-America Award. He also was a member of the NFL's Blue Ribbon Committee, selecting the NFL High School Football Coach of the Year.
"I was extremely honored to have accepted this award on behalf of my father," said Richard Galiette. "For 33 seasons, he had a great love and passion for Yale Football and broadcasting. He would have been very proud to have been recognized alongside such distinguished individuals."
The NFF, which distributes more than $275,000 in scholarships to the scholar-athletes, also presented its major awards last night.
The 2008 Hall of Fame Class: Troy Aikman (UCLA), Billy Cannon (LSU), Jim Dombrowski (Virginia), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), Wilber Marshall (Florida), Rueben Mayes (Washington State), Randall McDaniel (Arizona State), Don McPherson (Syracuse), Jay Novacek (Wyoming), Dave Parks (Texas Tech), Ron Simmons (Florida State), Thurman Thomas (Oklahoma State), Arnold Tucker (Army). Coaches: John Cooper and Lou Holtz.
The 2008 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class and Draddy Finalists: Football Bowl Subdivision - Chase Daniel (Missouri); Graham Harrell (Texas Tech); Quin Harris (Louisiana Tech); Jeff Horinek (Colorado State); Alex Mack (California); Ryan McDonald (Illinois); Darryl Richard (Georgia Tech); Brian Robiskie (Ohio State); and Louie Sakoda (Utah). Football Championship Subdivision: Andrew Berry (Harvard); Ryan Berry (South Dakota State); and Casey Gerald (Yale). Division II: Ryan Kees (St. Cloud State, Minn.). Division III: Brian Freeman (Carnegie Mellon, Pa.); and Greg Micheli (Mount Union, Ohio).
2008 Major Award Winners: Gold Medal Recipient - Former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn; Distinguished American Award - T. Boone Pickens; Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award - Bill Battle; John L. Toner Award - Gene Smith, Ohio State; Outstanding Football Official Award - Thomas Robinson, WAC and Mountain West; and Chris Schenkel Award Co-recipients Bob Curtis, Idaho, and posthumously Dick Galiette, Yale.
Legacy Awards: Pacific-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen, Ivy League Executive Director Jeffrey Orleans, and Big East Commissioner Mike Tranghese.
Transcript of Casey Gerald's Speech
There are people in this room who have made profound impacts on my life--from my grandmothers and sister, to friends, coaches and supporters from Yale, even to Troy Aikman, Jay Novacek and Jerry Jones - who gave a young Dallas boy like myself three Super Bowls to annoyingly brag about into adulthood. All 15 of us have our personal champions, and tonight we thank you for bringing us this far in life; and we thank the National Football Foundation for considering us worthy to share this stage. But aside from the personal champions that we owe a great deal to, there is another--more consuming--influence on all of our lives to which we are eternally grateful: the game of football.
You see, for the past four years, we have lived a dream that only so many are fortunate to enjoy. And the hope is that we haven't lived that dream for personal gain in itself, or to wake up in the Waldorf Astoria in front of thousands of people. Instead, we have lived the dream of college football to pursue what Teddy Roosevelt called, "the strenuous life." To bleed and sweat and cry; to win and sometimes even to fall short for a cause that is greater than us, and for a goal that can only be reached through a collective effort by a group of men willing to pay the price. And so tonight, we live the dream yet again, not only representing ourselves but also representing the men on 15 campuses who toiled so that we may be here.
As we go on, some, if not all, of us will be fortunate enough to live other dreams and to dare greatly in various arenas. I do not doubt that in those times of great triumph or great peril, we will call upon the lessons that we learned through this football dream. And we will realize that our disappointments are only temporary incubators of character, and that our successes are not only testaments to the investments that others have made in us, but also obligations to replicate those investments in the lives of others.
So while I cannot do justice to the honor it has been to be a man of Yale football, to play this great game that has given me a chance to rise above any obstacles and dare to be somebody, or to speak in the presence of this august body, I say on behalf of the fourteen other phenomenal men behind me: thank you and God bless.
Report filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director