There's no doubt the coach, whose brainchild garnered national media attention, wasn't looking for earthly rewards when he urged half his own team's fans - for one night - to root for the opposing team. But according to AP:
In a sense, Coach Kris Hogan is right when he said, "I hate it that this thing that we did is so rare ... Everybody views it as such a big deal. Shouldn't that be the normal m.o., though?" But the truth is what happened that night in Grapevine really was rare, special and inspirational - an act of compassion that transcended sports.
A story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the next day led to a column by ESPN's Rick Reilly. Troy Aikman made sure Goodell read it, leading to the invitation for this weekend. The fallout has helped Gainesville, too, with Williams noticing warmer welcomes at basketball games and more kids wanting to play football.
"Coach Hogan inspired an entire community in an extraordinary way and gave those young men on the Gainesville team a chance to believe in themselves," Goodell said. "It's a powerful message and shows how football can be such a positive force in shaping values and building communities."
Good for Aikman and Goodell and bully for Coach Hogan for this much-deserved recognition.
MORE: I'd missed this excellent, extensive coverage from the Fort Worth Star Telegram by sports reporter Dave Thomas, who covered the game for the paper.
WATCH VIDEO OF THE GAME: Via the Star-Telegram.