Bristol Motor Speedway officials showed up at Tennessee State football practice Wednesday and treated the team to pizza after the Tigers’ next-to-last practice before traveling to Notre Dame for Saturday’s game (2:30 p.m., NBC).
Before the lunch Bristol Motor Speedway president Jerry Caldwell presented Tigers coach Eddie George with the sixth annual BMS Neighborhood Hero award. George was given a plaque along with a $1,000 donation to the Tamara & Edward George Legacy Fund.
The presentation would have been made during the pre-race ceremonies at the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 16, a round of 16 playoff race in the NASCAR Cup Series. But George will be busy leading the Tigers that night in a game against Gardner-Webb.
“We at Bristol Motor Speedway have a big platform where we get to have these big events and celebrate fun activities but we also want to use that platform to honor folks who have done great things,” Caldwell said. “You look at Eddie and Tamara and what they’ve not only done here at Tennessee State University but also in Middle Tennessee. They view it the same as us. They have a platform and they use it to make a difference. This was an easy one for us to honor.”
Past award winners included the Nolensville Little League All-Star baseball team, which made a run in the 2022 Little League World Series, and Army sergeant first class Daniel L. Cole, who was deployed four times in support of operations outside of the U.S. and presented his award along with a ride around the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway track with NASCAR Cup series driver Chase Elliott.
Matt Greci, general manager of the Nashville Superspeedway and home of the NASCAR Cup Series Ally 400, also attended the practice and presentation of the award.
George, headed into his third season at TSU, was a bit hesitant to accept the award since his teams have not yet achieved a winning record. The Tigers went 5-6 in 2021 and 4-7 last season. He believes, however, he was honored because of his philosophy on and off the field.
“I came in with the intention to transform and shape these young men’s lives through the prism of football,” George said. “So they can be productive citizens but also realize their purpose after the game. So often we see athletes − high school, college, professional − leave the game with no guidance. I just want to provide for them a guiding light and understand that they’re not here just to play football but through football give back in a greater way.”
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After Caldwell explained to the team the award and why George received it George allowed Caldwell to break down the end of practice. Caldwell moved to the center of the team and on the count of three shouted “Guts” signaling the end of practice.
Lunch was served after that.
“I love that coach George is so involved in the community, which is what this award is about,” senior safety Josh Green said. “His first day here you could tell how involved he is in the city of Nashville. Him getting this award is just a blessing. It’s something he’s always been doing and something he will always do. I’m glad someone gave him an applause for it.”
Reach Mike Organ at 615-259-8021 on on the X platform, formerly the Twitter, @MikeOrganWriter.