#SaluteToService Award Nominees

The Salute to Service Award presented by USAA acknowledges the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL community to honor and support U.S. service members, veterans and their families. Two members of the #SSGFam were nominated, Christian Covington (Texans DE) and Joe Haeg (Colts T). Read more about their efforts below:

Houston Texans
Christian Covington (Defensive End)
Since the day fourth-year defensive end Christian Covington joined the Texans he has been a staple in the Houston community. Covington grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia the son of a former Canadian Football League player, Grover Jr., and his wife, Natasha, who emphasized to their children the importance of giving back – a directive Christian took to heart. Christian played his college football at Rice University – located just a few miles from NRG Stadium, the home of the Houston Texans – and started giving back to the Houston community while he was still a student and he hasn’t stopped since. Christian comes from a military family, his great grandfather on his mother’s side, Mervyn Matthew Fleming, served as a pilot in the Royal Canadian Air Force flying death defying missions over Germany including flying in the first mission to bomb Berlin in World War II. After completing two tours of duty, Fleming received the Distinguished Service Order, one of the highest wartime honors, for demonstrating outstanding skill, courage, and devotion to duty before going on to a career in aviation. Christian’s grandfather on his dad’s side, Grover Covington, Sr., served in the Army as did two of his uncles, Johnny and Laurence Covington. When Christian was drafted in the 6th round of the NFL Draft by the Houston Texans, his uncle called from South Korea where he was stationed to congratulate him, making for a special moment for the entire Covington family. Christian has a way of making everyone he meets feel special and this skill has been on display at many Texans events. Christian annually participates in the Texans Salute to Service Military BBQ. Christian has said, “When we as professional athletes are in a position to help and give back to our communities, a sense of personal duty becomes prevalent in doing so. Giving of our time through efforts to those who have sacrificed so much and have put their lives on the line for our freedoms, nothing can bring us more pride.”

When the Super Bowl was in Houston in February of 2017, Christian attended the USO Salute to Service Military Appreciation BBQ at Ellington Joint Air Force Base in Houston. More than 2,000 service members and their families came to the base to enjoy food, fun, giveaways, games, music and more in an airline hanger filled to the brim with activity. In the summer of 2017, Christian took part in Good Grief camp at the T.A.P.S. Austin Regional Seminar. T.A.P.S, which stands for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, assists families and kids grieving the death of a loved one who served in America’s Armed Forces. The Texans created fun interactive drills to aid in the building of camaraderie between T.A.P.S. children and their military mentors, along with their T.A.P.S. peers, to help facilitate important conversations that give T.A.P.S. children the opportunity to share about their grief. Representatives from T.A.P.S. said it best, “On a 100+ degree summer day in Texas, Christian, carrying a huge smile and contagiously positive energy, gave his time to bring joy to military surviving children. He engaged, encouraged, supported and coached them through a day of PLAY 60 drills. Christian spoke with every surviving child present, providing a pleasant word to each, letting them know he recognized and honored the great sacrifice that each had made. In the spring of 2018, Christian attended a military appreciation lunch at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sitting down with service members to eat and thank all who attended for their service. Christian is always the first to volunteer to go out into the community, whether it’s attending a school assembly to combat bullying, supporting kids with cancer through his work with the Sunshine Kids Foundation, hosting a football camp in his native country of Canada, or visiting with service members and veterans at a military appreciation event we always know we can count on Christian. Christian will be supporting the USO Houston as part of his Salute to Service Award nomination. Christian said, “I feel it is an honor and a privilege to give back to the real heroes who have truly given everything. God’s blessings and love to all the military families, from my family to yours. Thank you for your service.”

Indianapolis Colts
Joe Haeg (Offensive Tackle)
Joe Haeg is entering his third season with the Indianapolis Colts. Joe is known as a friend, supporter, and teammate to military service members and veterans nationwide. Joe’s best friend is an officer in the U.S. Marines and his cousin serves in the U.S. Air Force. Joe plays in the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Game to benefit the Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team every summer while home in Brainerd, Minnesota. Haeg wears his military pride on his sleeve and on his cleats. Joe is once again representing the Wounded Warrior Project as his charity of choice for the League’s My Cause My Cleats game, just as he has for the past two seasons. For Haeg, it’s about giving back to those who sacrifice so much, he uses his platform with the Colts and the NFL to shine a light on the real heroes – the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces and those who served before them.

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