Finalists revealed for inaugural Shula Award

The NFL has announced 28 finalists for the inaugural Don Shula NFL Coach of the Year Award.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell created the award a year ago "to honor exemplary football coaches at all levels of the sport that display the integrity, achievement, and leadership demonstrated by the winningest coach in NFL history."

Candidates must be active coaches at the youth, high school, college or pro levels.

Those nominated from AFC East clubs:

  • Buffalo Bills: Tom Goddard from Clarence High in suburban Buffalo.

  • Miami Dolphins: George Smith from St. Thomas Aquinas High in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • New England Patriots: Ian Cotterell, a youth league coach from Brookline-Jamaica Plain.

  • New York Jets: Clayton Kendrick-Holmes from SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.

Five teams nominated their own head coaches: the Baltimore Ravens, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks.

The Tennessee Titans nominated assistant Mike Heimerdinger, who was diagnosed with cancer in November but kept coaching while undergoing chemotherapy.

The judging panel includes Shula, Goodell, former Oakland Raiders coach John Madden, former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy, former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, Gen. Raymond Odierno (commander of the U.S. Joint Forces Command), IBM boss Sam Palmisano and Aplington-Parkersburg athletic director Aaron Thomas (son of legendary prep coach Ed Thomas).

The winner of the national Shula Award will receive $25,000 and will be invited to the Super Bowl.