Robert Johnson, head coach at Mission Viejo High School in Mission Viejo, Calif., is the 2009 NFL High School Football Coach of the Year, it was announced today. Johnson was nominated by two of his former players, Jets QB Mark Sanchez and Seahawks DE Nick Reed.
Johnson and a guest will be invited to attend Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida as a guest of the NFL. Johnson also will receive a check for $5,000, and a $10,000 grant will be awarded to the football program at Mission Viejo High School. All grants are awarded by the NFL Youth Football Fund (YFF).
The NFL High School Football Coach of the Year Award was created in 1995 by the NFL and its teams to honor coaches who profoundly impacted the athletic and personal development of NFL players. This year more than 75 players nominated the high school football coaches who helped shape them during their teenage years.
Current NFL players shared their admiration and respect for their former coaches through the nomination applications they completed during the regular season.
In his nomination essay, Sanchez wrote: "It's a well deserved honor for Coach Johnson. His high school teams have been some of the best around. I was a part of one of his championships. I'm proud to know him. I'm proud to be close friends with him, and I wish him and his family the best."
Of his coaching philosophy, Johnson wrote, "The players learn how to set goals, how to achieve them, how to use self-discipline and how to work hard within a unit to achieve success. We emphasize family, citizenship, and scholarship. … We work hard and play hard and try to make it fun along the way while building good relationships."
"Our players come from different backgrounds, regions and life experiences," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The one thing they all have in common is that they received guidance and learned important life lessons from their high school coaches. We commend Coach Johnson and the 2009 nominees for dedicating their lives to teaching young players how to become leaders both on and off the field."
A blue-ribbon committee of sports leaders appointed by the NFL selects the winners. Panel members are Jon Butler, executive director, Pop Warner Little Scholars Inc.; veteran sportswriter Jack Fleischer; Scott Hallenbeck, executive director of USA Football; Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association;former Dallas Cowboys personnel director and NFL.com contributor Gil Brandt; and Mike Berg, Tony DeMatteo, Rich Kallok and William McGregor II, all former NFL High School Football Coach of the Year winners.
Established in 1998 by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, the NFL Youth Football Fund seeks to use football as a catalyst to promote positive youth development, support youth and high school football needs nationwide and also ensure the health of grassroots football in future generations. Through the YFF's youth football initiatives and support programs, youngsters are provided with opportunities to learn the game of football, get physically fit and stay involved in productive after-school activities with adult mentors.
Click here www.nflyff.org to see a complete list of this year's nominees or for more information on NFL Youth Football Fund initiatives.