COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS — Super Bowl LV is right around the corner, and even though a Texas team isn't taking the field, the Dallas Cowboys are making an impact in the life of one Brazos Valley man off the field.
The team has invited four Baylor Scott & White health care workers to attend the big game as a thank you for their tireless service.
"I said, "I won... I won... what?!" So I didn't believe it, and I forwarded the email to my supervisor, and she said confirmed and said, "Yeah you won!" I am over the moon. I am still trying to process it all," said Tony Neal, a Patient Service Specialist within the Department of Mental Health for Baylor Scott & White in College Station.
Neal says it's not only a dream come true, but a breath of fresh air as a health care worker during this time. The Cowboys are assisting the health care worker in crossing off a bucket-list experience.
"It definitely is a blessing. All I can say is this is God just smiling and giving me a moment of grace is what I call it," Neal added.
Charlotte Jones, the Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer for the Dallas Cowboys, says even though the game hasn't been played yet, the new guests of the Cowboys are everyone's true MVP's.
"You all certainly are our MVP. You are the MVP for everybody in our country with your service, your sacrifice and your commitment. That is amazing what all you have given of yourself to keep others healthy and keep others safe," said Jones.
Neal says the acknowledgment from the prominent sports business executive was something surreal, and he wishes he could share the spotlight with the rest of his Baylor Scott & White team.
"To get looked at and to be acknowledged like that by Charlotte Jones, who has seen enough MVP's herself in her career, it meant a lot. It was something just to kinda step back out of myself and to hear that and to get that from her was amazing," Neal said.
Two days after the Super Bowl is Neal's birthday, making this unique experience even sweeter.
"Two days after the Super Bowl, so February 9th. I am sorry Mom and Dad, but this is easily the greatest gift I've gotten, you know, for my birthday. I just gotta put that out there," he added.
Jones, along with two-time Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence and Cowboys sideline reporter Kristi Scales virtually met the four Baylor Scott & White employee recipients, thanking them for their work throughout the Texas communities.
"I'll be turning 32. That is amazing to me. I still can't wrap my head around it. It's just an amazing experience. I think it will hit me once I get into the stadium and see the field and see the other health care employees and individuals able to go. To be in that environment, that is why you want to go to that game. The sports fan in me is going crazy. The Kansas City Chiefs fan is going even more crazy," Neal shared.
All health care workers attending Super Bowl LV will have completed their COVID-19 vaccination protocol prior to traveling to Tampa Bay.
The experience is all expenses paid and includes Cowboys swag, a $500 gift card, a ticket to the game, airfare, hotel accommodations and a Sleep Number 360 bed.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced last week that the league was inviting approximately 7,500 vaccinated health care workers to Super Bowl LV.
"The majority of these health care workers -- all of whom will have received both doses of the vaccine -- will come from hospitals and health care systems in the Tampa and central Florida area. They will receive free Super Bowl tickets and gameday experiences directly from the NFL. All 32 NFL clubs will select vaccinated health care workers from their communities to attend the Super Bowl in Tampa Bay on Sunday, Feb 7." an NFL press release said.