vince would be proud

Aidan Hutchinson and college stars stand tall in Rotary Lombardi Awards

Aidan Hutchinson + college stars stand tall in Rotary Lombardi Awards

Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Aidan Hutchinson is the 2021 winner. Photo courtesy of Rotary Lombardi Award
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
A meet and greet with Gow Media at The Cannon Sports. Photo courtesy of Rotary Lombardi Award
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
The finalists with Miss Texas at a Q&A. Photo courtesy of Rotary Lombardi Award
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Hutchinson pictured with his father. Photo courtesy of Rotary Lombardi Award
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Finalist Tyler Linderbaum (right). Photo courtesy of Rotary Lombardi Award
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021
Rotary Lombardi Award 2021

Thanks to a truly poorly timed win, the Houston Texans have effectively killed the chance to draft college football mauler Aidan Hutchinson. But some lucky locals recently got a chance to get up close and personal with the towering University of Michigan defensive end at the annual Rotary Lombardi Awards Dinner and celebration.

As sports fans know, Hutchinson won the award that goes each year to the top Division IA college football lineman.Established in 1970 by the Rotary Club of Houston in memory of legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi, the massive, 40-pound block of pink Texas granite symbolizes the power, strength, and character of Lombardi and the gritty, gallant players.

“I give my parents all the credit for how they raised me,” Hutchinson told CultureMap after being presented the trophy at the awards ceremony at the Hilton-Americas hotel downtown. “I’m a high-character person willing to do whatever it takes for my team and to win. And that was something that was so relevant for my team. We were unranked and now we’re in the playoffs. It’s so great being a leader on the team that brought Michigan football back.”

Hutchinson added that he understood the pressure put on him as a leader on the team as a senior and on the Michigan defense. “You’ve got to live with that pressure,” he said. “Your teammates are relying on you to make plays and when there’s adversity, you have to stand up and get people straight and back on track.”

Hutchinson was in a distinctly quality class, pitted against college standouts Kenyon Green of Texas A&M, Tyler Linderbaum of Iowa, and Mike Rose of Iowa State.
The day before the event, the quartet met a group of VIPs and supporters at a “Meet the Finalists” reception at The Cannon Sports facility, which was presented by Gow Media (CultureMap’s parent company), ESPN 97.5 FM Houston, and Goya Care.

The morning of the award ceremony, players and Miss Texas Victoria Hinojosa joined a zoom call with the children in the cancer ward at Texas Children’s Hospital, an effort spearheaded by Dr. ZoAnn Dryer. The group then visited Child Protective Services and enjoyed a special time with the children in residence. That was followed by a Q&A session with students at Strake Jesuit Preparatory College.

Then came a private reception the following night sponsored by Goya Cares, then the dinner which came courtesy of KPRC Channel 2, ESPN Radio, Gow Media, Moss Adams, The Strake Foundation, Goya Foods, Porter Hedges, Houston First, and Tenenbaum Jewelers, which provided the dazzling raffle item for the night.

Moving speeches were offered up by Bucky Ribbeck, a former Front-Line Kid and now pediatric specialist at Texas Children’s Hospital and Robert “Bob’ Unanue, president and CEO of Goya Foods, who presented the Humanitarian Award.

Two gridiron greats followed: a video greeting from legendary Green Bay Packer Jerry Kramer and a live speech by NFL and college star Chris Spielman, the 1987 Lombardi Award winner and author of the book That’s Why I am Here.

In all, it was a series of events that served as a reminder that in life and sport, for those that aspire to greatness of character, there are no losers — only champions.

Oh, and as for Hutchinson coming to the Bayou City and perhaps donning a steel-blue uniform? “I love Houston,” he said with a smile, “it’s a great city and I always love coming down here.”

Texans fans can dream, no?