Kenny Chesney was honored as “Tennessean of the Year” by the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame on Friday, February 11. He was honored not only for his role as a producer on the ESPN football documentary “Boys of Fall,” but also for his role as mentor of young adults through his contribution of thousands of DVDs to high schools across the country. As Bill Emendorfer, President of the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame says, the award “honors an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to our society through sports or other methods, demonstrating strong character and high profile leadership.”
Kenny’s offer to contribute copies of the “Boys of Fall” DVD to high schools across the nation was met with tremendous response and requests from school principals and coaches in all 50 states. In one of the letters received, a high school’s athletic director invited Kenny to serve as an honorary assistant coach as they vied for a 10th state championship, and in another, a head football coach wrote to Chesney, “your path to success has shown kids all over the country that if they have a dream and a willingness to work hard, anything is possible.”
Kenny said the decision to orchestrate the giveaway was easy, as it was a film that he made to inspire student-athletes to take to heart the lessons they learned on the playing field and one that he thought all young adults should see.
With the honor, Kenny joins an esteemed list of Tennesseans that includes Vince Gill (1995), Peyton Manning (1998), and Lamar Alexander (1986). Kenny is also recognized as a mentor for fellow musicians. Taylor Swift, Sugarland, Lady Antebellum, Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood are a few of country music’s current crop of stars who have been mentored by Kenny in some fashion or have been offered opening slots on his hugely successful tours.
Kenny’s second production for ESPN, “The Color Orange: The Condredge Holloway Story” — a retrospective on Kenny’s boyhood idol, the first African-American quarterback to play football in the SEC – will premiere on ESPN Sunday, February 20 at 8pm EST.