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Aponte was promoted to executive vice president of football administration of the Dolphins in July 2012 after serving as the club's senior vice president of football operations from 2010-11. She works closely with the general manager and head coach on football administrative matters and serves as the team's chief contract negotiator. She is responsible for the management and strategic planning of the Dolphins’ salary cap, negotiating and drafting player contracts and overseeing the football operations budgets.
Former NFL All-Pro Matt Birk stood among the best centers in the league throughout his 15-season playing career (1998-2012) with his hometown Minnesota Vikings and the Baltimore Ravens. Birk helped the Ravens earn a victory in Super Bowl XLVII. The Harvard University graduate and 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year joined the NFL league office in 2014 as its director of football development. His responsibilities involve developing the sport on multiple levels spanning players, coaches and front office personnel, in addition to assisting in NFL game day operations.
A five-time All-Pro strong safety with the Kansas City Chiefs, Deron Cherry played 11 seasons in the NFL and was named to the league’s 1980s All-Decade Team. Cherry won the Byron White NFL Man of the Year Award in 1987 and is now a limited owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. He is actively involved with Special Olympics, Muscular Dystrophy Association and the United Negro College Fund.
Cove directs SFIA’s overall strategy and positioning among legislative, industry and media influences. He also oversees the industry’s premier research program. Prior to joining SFIA, he served on staff in the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Senate. Cove serves on the Board of Directors for the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry, Sporting Goods Advisory Board, Tennis Industry Association, and Children’s Charities Foundation of Washington, D.C.
Woodie Dixon Jr. is the general counsel and senior vice president of business affairs for the Pac-12. Throughout his legal career, Dixon has been involved in different aspects of sports and entertainment law, including player/representative agreements, sponsorship contracts, media rights, intellectual property, litigation and licensing. Prior to joining the Pac-12, Dixon served as general counsel for the Kansas City Chiefs from 2004-10. He also has worked for the NFL, Sidley & Austin LLP and Dorsey & Whitney.
Gardner is the executive director of the National Federation of State High School Associations following 10 years as the organization’s chief operating officer. The Indianapolis-based NFHS is the national leadership organization for high school athletic activities involving more than 8 million participants. Gardner has been involved in high school athletics throughout his 40-year career in secondary education as a teacher, coach, athletic director and administrator. He previously was commissioner of the Indiana High School Athletic Association for five years.
Goodell is the eighth chief executive in the NFL’s history, chosen by NFL club owners to be commissioner in August 2006 and taking office Sept 1, 2006. His focus has been making the game safer and better and successfully growing the NFL’s popularity and all 32 NFL franchises through innovation. He addressed a wide range of issues to improve the NFL, including player health and safety, personal conduct and international development.
Under Hallenbeck’s leadership since 2005, USA Football leads the game’s development for youth, high school and other amateur players. The independent nonprofit partners with leaders in medicine, child advocacy and sport to establish important standards rooted in education. USA Football is the official youth football development partner of the NFL and each of the league’s 32 teams. The organization advances coaching education and player skill development for safer play and positive experiences through football. USA Football has established official partnerships with leading organizations in medicine and football, including the American College of Sports Medicine and the Big Ten, Big XII and Pac-12 conferences. USA Football manages America’s national teams in the sport for international competition and produces industry-leading resources for football coaches, players, game officials and youth league commissioners.
Hoge played for the Pittsburgh Steelers (1987-93) and Chicago Bears (1994) before concussions ended his playing career. He led the Steelers in rushing and receiving in four seasons and joins Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris as the only Steelers to run for 100 yards in back-to-back playoff games. An ESPN NFL analyst and former youth football coach, he is featured in USA Football's certified coaching education program at usafootball.com, which has helped train thousands of youth coaches since its 2007 inception.
Hollins is the Director of Louisiana Youth Football based in Baton Rouge. The largest youth football league in the state, it comprises 70 teams, 360 coaches and more than 2,600 players. Also a member of the USA Football Rules Committee and Commissioners Advisory Committee, Hollins’ program teaches the sport’s fundamentals with a focus on educational excellence and behavior management as requirements for participation.
Meana was chairman of the Fairfax County Youth Football League for more than 20 years, where he helped lead the organization into becoming one of the country’s largest and most successful independent youth leagues of any sport. He organized and plays a lead role in the Fairfax County synthetic turf initiative that is bringing artificial turf fields to 45 communities throughout Northern Virginia. A member of the Vienna Youth Incorporated Hall of Fame, Meana also coached youth football for 32 years. Meana is retired from Amtrak, Office of the Inspector General, where he was responsible for system safety and security.
Murphy was hired as the Green Bay Packers’ president and CEO in 2008. Under his direction, the team has earned four playoff berths, captured two division titles and won Super Bowl XLV. Murphy was a Redskins co-captain from 1980-84, a period that included consecutive Super Bowl appearances (1982-83). In 1983, he led the NFL with nine interceptions and earned consensus All-Pro honors.
A successful football scout, coach and NFL team executive for more than 40 years, Peterson was named USA Football chairman in June 2009. Best known as one of the NFL's most successful team executives with the Kansas City Chiefs (1989-2008), Peterson cut his teeth in the game as a high school coach before advancing as a coach on the college Division II and Division I-A levels from 1966-75. After serving as receivers coach at his alma mater UCLA (1972-75), Peterson followed Bruins head coach Dick Vermeil to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976 to become the team's director of player personnel. Peterson helped the Eagles earn their first Super Bowl berth in 1980. In 2016, Peterson received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations, which pays homage to the immigrant experience and the contribution made to America by immigrants and their children.
Rosseau is a board-certified surgeon specializing in neurosurgery. She is a neurosurgeon with NorthShore University HealthSystems and has been an examiner for the American Board of Neurological Surgery. She has been elected to the leadership of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, World Federation of Neurosurgical Societies and the Société de Neurochirurgie de Langue Française.
Specht became the head coach at St. Xavier – his high school alma mater – following the 2003 season. His Bombers have won two Ohio big school championships (2005, 2007), with Specht earning Ohio Division I Coach of the Year honors both times. He served as the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Under-19 National Team and defensive coordinator in 2009, leading Team USA to a gold medal in the 2009 IFAF Under-19 World Championship and a silver medal three years later. Specht also serves as a USA Football Master Trainer, conducting Heads Up Football instructional clinics for the youth and high school football communities.
Michael Strickland is the ACC’s senior associate commissioner for football, steering the conference’s player safety initiatives. Through his leadership, the ACC became the first college conference to endorse the NCAA’s practice contact guidelines and has endorsed and implemented USA Football’s Heads Up Football program through ACC-conducted youth football clinics. Strickland oversees the conference’s championship game and serves as the ACC’s liaison to the league’s 14 head football coaches and their programs as well as with television networks, national football organizations and postseason bowl partners.
Berry became executive director of the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) in March 2016. Before that, he had a 33-year career in coaching, including head coaching positions at Illinois State, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and Louisiana-Monroe.
Abrams began his educational career as a history teacher before becoming a principal. A former NFL linebacker who earned a master’s degree in education from Alabama State University, Abrams played four seasons at the University of Michigan and was a member of the New York Giants team that won Super Bowl XXV.
A former high school teacher, athletic director and football coach, Garrett chairs the NFHS Football Rules Committee in addition to his OSAA leadership position.
A former Division I soccer and ultimate frisbee team member at UC Berkeley, Goodwin was a linebacker for the 2010 U.S. gold medal-winning Women’s National Team as well as the Boston Militia women’s football team. A member of the Ultimate Frisbee Hall of Fame, Goodwin is currently the chief financial officer and linebacker coach for the Boston Renegades women's football team.
A former quarterback at the University of Colorado (2007-10), Hawkins was a team captain for the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Team at the 2011 IFAF World Championship in Austria. A graduate assistant on the 2014 Ohio State University coaching staff, he also was the quarterbacks coach and play-caller for the gold-medal winning 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team.
Herring is University of Washignton clinical professor in the Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine, Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, and Neurological Surgery. He is director of the UW Medicine Sports Health and Safety Institute, medical director of Sports, Spine and Orthopedic Health for UW Medicine and co-medical director of the Sports Concussion Program, a partnership between UW Medicine and Seattle Children's Hospital. Herring holds the Zackery Lystedt Sports Concussion Endowed Professorship. He specializes in non-operative musculoskeletal and sports medicine with a particular interest in disorders of the spine and sports concussion. Herring is transitioning from his long time role as a team physician for the Seattle Seahawks and continues as a team physician for the Seattle Mariners and as a consultant to the UW Sports Medicine Program. Chairman of the USA Football Medical Advisory Committee, Herring was a major contributor to the successful passage of the Zackery Lystedt Law in Washington State, and his continued work helped pass similar legislation in all fifty states and the District of Columbia.
Luck was a member of the inaugural College Football Playoff committee and serves on USA Football’s Football Advisory Committee and the NFL Player Safety Advisory Committee. A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Luck played five seasons with the Houston Oilers.
Smithey was a wide receiver on the 2015 U.S. Men’s National Team, which earned the gold medal at the International Federation of American Football World Championship in Canton, Ohio. Smithey was a two-time All-Great American Conference selection for Southeastern Oklahoma State University (2010-14), named to the conference’s All-Academic team twice (2013-14) while refereeing flag football and basketball for children in grades 1-5. Upon graduation, Smithey worked a football graduate assistant at Southeastern Oklahoma State while earning his master's degree in sports studies and athletic administration. In 2016, Smithey returned to his home state of Texas to become a social studies teacher and quarterbacks coach at Brazosport High School in Freeport, Texas.
Okey played center for the gold medal-winning 2013 U.S. Women’s National Team and the Chicago Force women’s professional football team. Prior to football, she played volleyball at Kalamazoo (Mich.) College. An advocate for corporate social responsibility, Okey has assisted in passing education law, managed girls sports programs and studied social innovation.
Wilcox is chairman and chief executive officer of Wilcox Financial and Wilcox Sports Management, diversified financial services and consulting companies headquartered in Toledo, Ohio. He is a past chairman of the Bowling Green State University board of trustees and currently serves as a trustee of the American Football Coaches Foundation, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra, the Culver Educational Foundation and the Lou Holtz/Ohio Valley Hall of Fame.