Laura Lockwood on the scene of one of her many community-improving projects
Dan Marino, John Elway and Steve Young may have all retired, but the NFL has found its next great quarterback.
Meet Laura Lockwood.
Lockwood is a 17-year old native of Bradenton, Florida, and she was crowned the NFL's quarterback of the year during Super Bowl week. The Community Quarterback, that is.
Thanks to a lengthy list of charitable involvements that would be extraordinary for anyone, let alone a 17-year-old, Lockwood has been named the first recipient of the NFL Community Quarterback Award. One of 31 finalists for this very prestigious honor, Lockwood was introduced as the overall winner at a Super Bowl press conference last Thursday.
Lockwood didn't know until the press conference began that she was the overall winner, as opposed to just a finalist. For the Buccaneers' community relations staff, which had helped select Lockwood as one of the 31 finalists, it was welcome but not surprising news.
"For us, on our voting process (for the local winner), she was head and shoulders above everyone, though all of the applicants are doing some really phenomenal things," said Buccaneers Community Relations Director Stephanie Waller. "We did more than just read a list of accomplishments. We looked back into their backgrounds to find out why they were doing what they were doing, what caused them to become involved in their specific endeavors."
Lockwood became the Bucs' nomination for the NFL's overall Community Quarterback Award when her application was selected by an impressive array of Tampa Bay leaders.
"We created a VIP panel that reviewed all of the applicants and narrowed it down to the ones we wanted to discuss at greater length," said Waller. "From there, it was a voting process on the panel, which consisted of NBC's Gayle Sierens, USF's Lee Roy Selmon, Raymond James' Larry Silver, the Tampa Tribune's Michael Kilgore, Beth Shields from Hillsborough County Schools, Kim Scheeler from the United Way and Randall and Marianne McDaniel from the Buccaneers."
This is the inaugural year for the NFL's new community program, which will donate nearly $1 million to community organizations served by outstanding volunteers such as Lockwood. The Bradenton hero was located through the work of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' community relations department, but it was her remarkable array of program development and volunteer service that made her the NFL's number-one choice.
NFL Charities will make a $25,000 donation to the Volunteer Services of Manatee County Inc., the primary organization through which Laura organizes her many community outreach programs.
In 1994, Laura established the "Mana-TEENs," currently the nation's largest teen volunteer program. The "ManaTEENs" complete more than 1,500,000 service hours each year to benefit 540 nonprofit organizations in the Tampa Bay Community. Laura is the CEO of the program and travels throughout the country assisting other communities in establishing teen volunteer initiatives.
In addition to her work with the "ManaTEENs," Laura has established a number of other volunteer programs in her community.
· Carousel Kids: developed in 1999, the Carousel Kids program has certified 840 teens to assist more than 2,300 families who are in need of qualified babysitters.
· Home Safety for Seniors: teen volunteers conduct needs assessments in the homes of elderly residents and help install such necessary items as smoke alarms, dead bolt locks, tub safety rails, and more.
· Weekend Dads: a program so popular that local family court judges recommend it to parents involved in custody battles, Weekend Dads encourages non-custodial parents and their children to volunteer together on the weekend.
Laura was selected by a blue-ribbon panel appointed by the NFL that included President and CEO, United Way of America, Betty Beene; Peter Gallagher, President and CEO, America's Promise; Robert K. Goodwin, President and CEO, Points of Light Foundation; Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner, National Football League; and the Honorable Harris Wofford, Former Chief Executive Officer, Corporation for National Service.
The Baltimore Ravens walked away from Super Bowl XXXV with rave reviews.
So did Raymond James Stadium, site of the Ravens' 34-7 dismantling of the New York Giants. Tampa's three-year-old stadium, which houses the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the regular season, owns the playing surface deemed best in the National Football League, according to the players themselves.
According to NFL Players Association survey results released during Super Bowl weekend, Raymond James Stadium is ranked as the "best playing field" in the league. The Indianapolis Star cited that 1,276 players responded to the survey, which put Raymond James Stadium ahead of Charlotte's Ericsson Stadium and Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium in the top three.
These survey results continue a long-standing trend of player preference to the conditions in Tampa. The playing surface at Tampa/Houlihan's Stadium, which housed the Bucs from 1976 through 1997, was routinely voted the league's best in this same survey. The tradition of excellence continues in the Bay area's fabulous new facility.
Meanwhile, Veterans Stadium remains the players' least favorite place to play, especially among its home town residents. Of the 36 Eagles who participated in the survey, 33 rated the Veterans Stadium artificial turf as 'poor.' St. Louis' TWA Dome was the highest-ranked domed stadium at number 21.
Fields of Green
Jacquez Green loves to go deep.
That's Green's specialty on the field and, as the rest of the league now knows, it's also his calling card when it comes to the video wars.
Over Super Bowl Weekend, Green competed in Madden Bowl 2001, a competition that pits NFL players against each other at the controls of Madden 2001, the ultra-popular Sony PlayStation 2 football simulation game. Actually, Green did more than just compete in the tournament. He won it.
Though Cincinnati running back Corey Dillon entered the tournament as the accepted favorite, Green disposed of Dillon rather easily in the finals to win the Madden Bowl 2001 championship. Throughout the tournament, as he easily defeated New Orleans defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, Detroit quarterback Charlie Batch and Dillon, Green repeatedly used the long ball, usually running a no-huddle offense and looking for the hot route at the line of scrimmage.
In the finals, both Green and Dillon elected to use the Washington Redskins roster, but Dillon stuck with quarterback Brad Johnson while Green turned to backup Jeff George in order to utilize George's stronger arm. Green's Skins scored two touchdowns within the first few seconds of the game and never allowed Dillon back into the contest.
"I knew it all along," said Green of his eventual tournament victory. "I knew I was going to win. I have a PlayStation 2 in my house and I've been practicing every day. I just wanted to represent for Tampa."
That he did. The man who stretches opposing defenses with his fearsome speed was equally quick at the controls of his PlayStation team. Designers for EA Sports, the game's maker, were reportedly stunned by Green's ability to push the control buttons 'freakishly fast and in rhythm.'