UPDATE: Eagles' Quarterback Carson Wentz will not attend the Maxwell Awards due to a family issue. Go to ACWeekly.com for more.
During its 83-year history, the Philadelphia-based Maxwell Football Club has honored its share of star quarterbacks from the Philadelphia Eagles, names that are part of team lore: Norm Van Brocklin, Pete Retzlaff, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham and Michael Vick.
The national organization honors three levels of football players, from the professionals to the collegiate and high school levels. And it’s not just quarterbacks who are honored, though they seem to attract the most attention as the leaders of the teams.
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The Maxwell Club fetes head coaches, as well, and, over the decades, several of those coaches wore Eagles’ green: Andy Reid, Dick Vermeil and Chip Kelly have also picked up the club’s top coaching awards.
This year, though, things will be a little different when the Maxwell Club honors the best in football 4:30 p.m. Friday, March 9, during a three-ring celebration at Tropicana Atlantic City, which will begin with a cocktail hour, move to a sit-down dinner for 1,100 guests and then put 2,200 people in the Tropicana Showroom to watch the best in the hard-hitting game receive richly deserved honors.
For the first time ever, the entire event — drinks, dinner and show — is completely sold out.
Included in those honors will be Eagles coach Doug Pederson, the babe-in-the-woods head coach who had the guts and audacity to call a goal line trick play — named “Philly Philly” or “Philly Special,” either name works — just before halftime during Super Bowl LII that gave his team seven more points headed into the break.
Pederson will become the first Eagles coach since Chip Kelly in 2013 to win the Maxwell’s Greasy Neale Award for best professional coach.
Some Eagles fans might feel the Maxwell Club’s Bert Bell Award for best professional quarterback should go to Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, who led the team to its first Lombardi Trophy win in team history.
But that’s not the case.
While Foles played what may have arguably been the best game of his career — he did, after all, win the Super Bowl and was named most valuable player in the game — the best quarterback award, which was first handed to the legendary Johnny Unitas in 1959, will be picked up by the quarterback whose brilliant playing made it possible for Foles to step in and lead the team to the ultimate win of the season.
That would be Carson Wentz, who was putting up MVP-like numbers and an almost unblemished record until he went down and out with a season-ending, surgery-needed torn ACL and injured LCL.
When was the last time a quarterback and coach from a Super Bowl-winning team ever picked up the Maxwell’s coach and QB honors of the year? Never. Turns out there’s a first time for everything, even after more than 80 years.
“That has never happened before in Maxwell history or Eagles history, so this year (those awards) have become a very unique experience,” says Mark Dianno, who succeeded former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski — himself a former Maxwell QB-of-the-year winner — as the Maxwell Football Club’s president.
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“Never have all those things come together with a Super Bowl victory on top,” Dianno adds. “It’s the cherry on top of the sundae.”
While Wentz and Pederson will likely receive most of the attention Friday during the Maxwell Awards evening, there’ll be others in attendance who should pay close attention to how the professionals handle themselves. That’s because in just a few years, they could be on the receiving end of all that Maxwell love.
“We have award-winners coming in nationally this year on the high school level, including Taron Vincent, one of the nation’s top high school defensive tackles,” Dianno says.
If the name Vincent rings a bell, you’re an Eagles fan deep down. Taron Vincent, who will play at Ohio State next year, is the son of former Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Troy Vincent.
“We have a lot of awards on both the national and regional level, so that’s why we feel we really are a comprehensive award that honors football on all levels, both locally and nationally,” Dianno explains.
Founded in 1935, the Maxwell Football Club is dedicated to the concept that young people are the future of this nation.
The club’s mission is to help young people realize their potential as leaders.
Dianno, a lifelong football fan, believes today’s younger players, especially in the professional and collegiate ranks, carry more responsibility beneath their shoulder pads than players from other eras.
“It is amazing when you look at today’s players and how much responsibility is placed on (them) at such an early age,” Dianno says. “Obviously, (Wentz) had a tremendous (season) this year all the way up until when he was injured. And then (he) helped out Nick Foles to step in and finish the job. I think Carson’s future is certainly bright, and we’re all hoping for a speedy recovery for him. But these young players have a lot of responsibility on them, and when you see them perform the way that (Wentz) performed this year, especially in only his second year in the league, it’s very, very impressive.”