A pair of NFL greats-turned-commentators will team up for the Freed-Hardeman University Annual Benefit Dinner Friday, Dec. 1, 2023. Boomer Esiason and Phil Simms will share the Loyd Auditorium stage at the FHU event that raises scholarship funds for FHU students.
Esiason is best known as a quarterback of the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals. One of the most successful QBs of his generation, he earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 1986 as the leader of the Bengals. In 1988, he was named the NFL MVP. Since leaving the NFL and entering the broadcast booth, Esiason has become a philanthropic ambassador and a leading figure in the fight against cystic fibrosis. He and his wife established the Boomer Esiason Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars to fund research, and they were named honorary chairs of Building Bridges to a Cure. He has also worked with numerous community organizations, including United Way, March of Dimes and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Foundation. In 1995, USA Today named Esiason Most Caring Athlete, and he was named Father of the Year by the National Father's Day Council. Esiason is a studio analyst for “The NFL Today” on CBS Sports.
Simms, the Super Bowl XXI MVP and a 15-year NFL veteran, is the lead analyst for CBS Sports, appearing alongside Jim Nantz as the network's premiere NFL announcer team. Simms led the New York Giants to two Super Bowl titles, while racking up stunning personal achievements and becoming an All-Pro quarterback. The Giants' first draft pick in 1979, Simms surpassed expectations to become a legend in the NFL. He set team marks for most passes completed and attempted for single game, season and career; career touchdown passes; and most 300-yard games in a career.
“We are excited to announce that these two NFL greats will be coming to Freed-Hardeman,” FHU President David R. Shannon said. “After successful careers as quarterbacks in the NFL, both have brought their communication skills to the broadcast booth. We look forward to seeing them and hearing their messages.”
Beloved Freed-Hardeman group from the 1980s the Hardeman Boys will take the stage at the 2023 dinner. The original Hardeman Boys — including Kyle Wadley, Todd Tunnell, Kevin Owen and Dale Alden — and their band will perform crowd favorites. Individuals can follow their performance schedule on the group’s Facebook page.
The FHU Annual Benefit Dinner is typically the state’s largest single-night fundraiser. For the past 23 years, it has generated more than $1 million annually to help students attend FHU. Forever Communications is the premier media sponsor for the event. Tickets and sponsorships are currently available. General admission tickets, which include dinner and Esaison’s and Simms’ appearance are $150. Sponsorships begin at $600. Those interested in information may call 731-989-6017. Tickets may be purchased at fhu.edu/benefitdinner.
The mission of Freed-Hardeman University is to help students develop their God-given talents for His glory by empowering them with an education that integrates Christian faith, scholarship and service. With locations in Henderson and Memphis, FHU offers associate, bachelor’s, master’s, specialist and doctoral degrees.