Vote for Chris Bailey for the 2023 Salute to Service Award here.
The Washington Commanders have nominated Washington Salute lead Chris Bailey for the 2023 NFL Salute to Service Award presented by USAA. The team surprised the Navy veteran with the news via a video from the Navy sprint football team, of which his son is a member.
"I'm honored to be named as the Washington Commanders' 2023 Salute to Service Award nominee," Bailey said following the surprise. "Leading Washington Salute, the Commanders' military program, for the last two seasons has been a dream come true. It's been such a gift to work in sports and be able to connect this powerful platform of the NFL in the National Capital Region with the military community."
The Salute to Service Award presented by USAA is announced annually at NFL Honors in February and acknowledges the exceptional efforts by members of the NFL to honor and support U.S. service members, veterans and their families. From his time as a helicopter pilot to his stint at the Naval Academy to his work with the Commanders, Bailey leads a life that truly embodies the spirit of the league's Salute to Service initiative.
Before starting his current role in May 2022, Bailey, a graduate of the Naval Academy, spent 25 years in the military. His time as a Navy captain, in which he worked with high-performing teams, served as an Officer Representative to the Naval Academy's Men's Swimming & Diving squad and held several leadership roles, instilled in him valuable lessons and a unique skillset that would prove pivotal in his current position with the Commanders.
"Nothing I did, either flying or on the ground, was done in a bubble … It was never about the individual, it was always about what we could accomplish together," Bailey said in an interview last year. "I see that parallel in this role now. On the business side of a professional sports organization, nothing gets accomplished alone. It's great to still be a part of a high-functioning team focused on mission accomplishment."
Now, mission accomplishment for the Navy veteran looks like executing any number of events that honor, empower and connect the local military community through Washington Salute, the Commanders' official military appreciation club. With Bailey at the helm, Washington Salute has grown to more than 80,000 members in the local military community and produces best-in-class programming including pregame and training camp events, activations with Commanders longtime partner, United Service Organization (USO) and more.
Bailey has an ever-growing list of highlights from his time so far with the Commanders. He has hosted Military Appreciation Day at training camp with 6,000 people in attendance, visits to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, ROTC scholarship events, VIP experiences for families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty and a six-stop base tour – to name just a few! Every piece of programming that has the Chris Bailey touch is filled with high-level insight and care.
"I think the biggest fulfillment in this job comes with making a lot of people happy and bringing service members and football together," Bailey has said. "When I get to make somebody smile, because they got to come to a game or practice or they got to meet a player, that makes the hours and the hard work worth it."
Spoken like a true leader, Bailey was quick to express appreciation for the teammates around him who help him make Washington Salute be the best it can be.
"Thank you to our ownership group, team President Jason Wright, and Coach Rivera for believing in me and for making our military community a priority for our club," Bailey said.