Nearly 40 Years
Every year since they began in 1984, the Mr. Football Awards have honored Tennessee’s most outstanding players.
Named after the executive director of the TSSAA at the time, the Gill Gideon Mr. Football Awards were originally presented by the American General Life and Accident Insurance Company. Head coaches from every school in the state voted on the top player, and the winners were announced at the Clinic Bowl awards.
Four years later, a separate banquet inspired by the Heisman Trophy ceremony was held at the American General building to celebrate the top three finalists and announce the winners. In 1994, the award was split into two categories, back and lineman, and in 2007, the Kicker of the Year award was added for the best kicker, regardless of classification.
The ceremonies for the players, coaches, and families have evolved a lot over the years. They were originally smaller affairs held in the American General building in Nashville, then as the awards’ notoriety grew, they moved to hotel ballrooms, including the Opryland Hotel. Since the Tennessee Titans Foundation began sponsoring the award in 2007, the ceremony has taken place at Nissan Stadium.
Today, the Mr. Football award goes to one player from each class, plus the kicker award. Finalists are nominated by members of the media and head coaches, and the award winner is selected by a committee of statewide sports writers based on their character, academics, and performance in the regular season.
The Chattanooga area boasts a whopping 45 winners since the award’s inception – check out these fantastic players’ highlights from their award-winning high school careers.