In 2012, for the second straight season, Carl Nicks was judged to be one of the most fundamentally-sound players in the NFL by USA Football, the official youth football development partner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the NFL. And for the second year in a row, that has proved to be very good news for Nicks' high school alma mater.
At the end of each NFL season, USA Football names a 26-man All-Fundamentals Team, honoring players who set a good example for young athletes by employing proper technique, particularly when blocking and tackling, thus enhancing player safety and improving their on-field performance. As a member of this team for both the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Nicks has received a pair of equipment grants valued at $1,500 each from USA Football to donate to the high school of his choice.
Not surprisingly, this year's grant is going to the same school that saw the benefits of Nicks' outstanding play last year: North Salinas High School in Salinas, California, where his own gridiron career was nurtured before he moved on to the University of Nebraska and then the NFL.
"The grant allows our football program to use those funds towards improving equipment for the Vikings instead of having to purchase [new] footballs," said North Salinas High School Athletic Administrator Jean Kinn Ashen. "The [North Salinas] Vikings are appreciative of Carl and the NFL for their commitment to interscholastic activities."
Nicks has now been named to USA Football's All-Fundamentals team once each as a member of the Buccaneers and the New Orleans Saints. Though he started only seven games in his first year as a Buccaneer before a foot injury sent him to injured reserve, Nicks is known as one of the premier guards in the NFL. At 6-5, 349-pounds, the two-time All-Pro (2010, 2011) and Pro Bowler (2010, 2011) utilizes his wide base, powerful lower body and strong hands to clear room for his teammates' rushing and passing attacks.
Employing core football fundamentals advances a youth player's performance and safety, particularly in the areas of blocking and tackling. USA Football has educated more than 100,000 youth football coaches in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. through its online courses and single-day coaching clinics. Approximately three million American children age 6-14 play organized tackle football, placing it among the country's most popular youth sports.
The Buccaneers work closely with USA Football throughout the year to promote youth football in a safe, structured environment. Each fall, the team designates one preseason home game as its "USA Football Game," where elements such as field stencils and stadium banners, team introductions, honorary captains and halftime events support USA Football and the thousands of youth football and cheer participants that are invited to the game. Additionally, the Buccaneers host an annual USA Football State Leadership Forum at the team's training facility, where youth football league commissioners and presidents network and gain insight into best practices for their players' benefit, including strengthening player safety through USA Football's "Heads Up Football" program.
The USA Football All-Fundamentals Team was assembled with guidance by a five-person selection committee:
- Tom Carter, NFLPA player advocate and former NFL defensive back
- Charles Davis, USA Football spokesperson, football analyst for NFL Network and FOX Sports
- Herm Edwards, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL head coach
- Merril Hoge, USA Football board member, ESPN NFL analyst and former NFL running back
- Carl Peterson, USA Football chairman, former NFL team executive and assistant coach
USA Football, the sport's national governing body in the United States, hosts dozens of football training events annually offering education for coaches, skill development for players and resources for youth football league commissioners. The independent nonprofit is the official youth football development partner of the NFL, its 32 teams and the NFL Players Association. USA Football manages U.S. national teams within the sport for international competitions and provides more than $1 million annually in equipment grants and youth league volunteer background check subsidies. Endowed by the NFL and NFLPA in 2002 through the NFL Youth Football Fund, USA Football (www.usafootball.com) is chaired by former NFL team executive Carl Peterson.