The NFL has announced San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle as a 2023 nominee for the annual Salute to Service Award.
Since entering the league, Kittle has worked to honor, empower and connect with military members. Last year, the tight end finished as a finalist for the Salute to Service Award. Kittle's appreciation for the military community is rooted in family. His uncle Pat and grandfather Carl both served in the armed forces. He has continued to honor the sacrifices of service members and the efforts of military nonprofits through the league's My Cause My Cleats initiative, recognizing the Pat Tillman Foundation (PTF) in 2018, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) from 2019 to 2021 and Merging Vets & Players (MVP) in 2022. During the 2021 season, Kittle purchased over 150 tickets to donate to the National Guard. In 2022, he hosted service members at every 49ers home and away game. This season, Kittle has donated over $10,000 to Operation Freedom Paws, a non-profit organization that connects service dogs to veterans and individuals with disabilities, extending his displays of appreciation nationwide.
In 2020, Kittle and his family founded the Hidden Pearls Podcast (HPP) to connect with military veterans to unite the world through storytelling. Last year, HPP joined "Diving With Heroes" in Cozumel to reflect on the benefits of scuba diving by veterans, especially those with physical disabilities. Kittle donated over $25,000 to charities selected by hosted veterans on the podcast over the past few seasons.
Since building a relationship with TAPS at the 2018 Pro Bowl, Kittle has sustained long term relationships with families who have lost a loved one to service. After gifting the family of fallen Army Sergeant Martin LaMar tickets to Super Bowl LIV, Kittle has spent multiple seasons reconnecting with the LaMars by hosting them at training camp practices. LaMar's purple heart medal, gifted to Kittle by LaMar's family in 2020, still hangs in Kittle's locker as a reminder of the sacrifices made by our nation's heroes.
The Salute to Service Award recognizes NFL players, coaches, staff and alumni with demonstrable commitment to honoring and supporting military and veteran communities, as nominated by NFL clubs.
The Faithful can vote for Kittle to earn the Salute to Service Award, which will help determine the award's three finalists. To submit your vote, visit nfl.com/causes/salute/nominees/2023/vote. One vote per day, per fan is permitted. The finalists will be announced in January.
The award's panel members will select a finalist who will be recognized at the NFL Honors during the week of Super Bowl LVIII.