Atlanta Sports Council to Honor Rich McKay with 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award

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For more than 30 years, McKay has been a mainstay in the National Football League. McKay joined the Falcons as general manager in 2004 and over the last 20 years, he has risen to be the top executive in owner Arthur Blank’s organization. Under McKay’s leadership, the Falcons have reached the playoffs seven times, appeared in three NFC Championship games and played in Super Bowl LI in 2017.

Since his promotion to CEO of the organization in 2011, McKay has been viewed as one of the most influential front office executives in the NFL. In 2011, NBC Sports’ Peter King listed McKay 10th on his list of 100 most influential people in the NFL. In 2019, The Athletic named McKay among the NFL’s 100 most influential businesspeople of all time.

McKay was promoted to his current role in January 2023, where he oversees the day-to-day operations of AMBSE, the parent company of both the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United of MLS, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as manages the football operations of the Falcons.

McKay, the son of legendary college football coach, John McKay, continues his family’s legacy of meaningful contributions to the sport of football. Prior to his time with the Falcons, McKay spent 10 years as general manager of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1994-2003). Among his notable achievements are guiding two franchises to Super Bowl appearances (Tampa Bay, 2003 and Atlanta, 2017) and active participation in various NFL committees overseeing various aspects of the League. McKay was integral in the previous collective bargaining agreement signed in 2011 and expired in 2020.

He has also served on the League’s powerful Competition Committee, which includes NFL head coaches and League executives who study the game and recommend rule changes and modifications to ensure player safety while promoting competitiveness for the last 30 years. McKay has been the co-chairman and then the chairman of the committee for the past 26 years. In addition to his commitment to advancing the game, McKay was highly involved in the collective bargaining agreement negotiations, which led to the current multi-year agreement signed in 2011 between the NFL and the NFL Players Association. Additionally, McKay is the only executive to have orchestrated two successful stadium negotiations (Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay in 1998 and Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta in 2017).

McKay’s commitment to sports is unwavering as is his commitment to giving back to the Atlanta community. McKay served two years as the Board Chair for Central Atlanta Progress, a private, not-for-profit corporation that plans and promotes Atlanta’s Central Area and strives to create a robust economic climate for downtown Atlanta. This year, McKay was honored at the CHRISTal Ball by the local non-profit CHRIS 180 with the CHRIStal Vision Award for his support of this impactful Atlanta organization. McKay is also on the Board of Directors for the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, the organization responsible for positioning Atlanta as a global competitor focused on advancing economic growth, enhancing business opportunities, and improving the quality of life for residents.

“Rich is a world-class executive and his impact on football and Atlanta has been notable and profound,” said Dan Corso, president of the Atlanta Sports Council. “From Mercedes-Benz Stadium to the success of the Falcons, his legacy is engraved on our city’s history. We have had the pleasure of working with Rich on our effort to secure major sporting events for the region and are certain his lifetime of accomplishments in Atlanta and throughout the NFL make McKay an obvious choice for the Lifetime Achievement Award.”

“Atlanta has meant so much to me and my family over the last two decades, I am honored to be recognized by the Atlanta Sports Council with The Lifetime Achievement Award,” said McKay. “I am grateful for everyone I have had the pleasure of working alongside all these years and I am proud of all we have been able to accomplish for this city, not only bringing the biggest events to Atlanta, but working together to give back to our communities.”

McKay will join some of Atlanta’s most renowned sports figures in receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Coca-Cola, including most recently Andrew Young (2022), Warrick Dunn (2021) Steve Koonin (2020), Dikembe Mutombo (2019), John Schuerholz (2018), Arthur Blank (2017), John Smoltz (2016), Tom Glavine (2015), the late Tommy Nobis (2014), Chipper Jones (2013), Dominique Wilkins (2012) and Bobby Cox (2011).

The Atlanta Sports Awards will be held virtually with a one-hour special in partnership with 11Alive (WXIA-TV) airing at 7 p.m. on Dec. 16. The special will re-air on the following dates, times and channels:

  • December 17, 8 p.m. (WATL)
  • December 24, 11 a.m. (11Alive) and 9 p.m. (WATL)
  • December 31, 11 a.m. (11Alive)

Leading up to the award show, fans will have a chance to vote for their favorite athletes, teams, coaches and more on https://www.11alive.com/sportsawards. The awards, created by the Atlanta Sports Council in 2006, highlight the high school, collegiate and professional sports community in Atlanta.

About the Atlanta Sports Awards

Created in 2006 by the Atlanta Sports Council, the Atlanta Sports Awards has become a way to rally the Atlanta sports community to recognize athletic excellence on a yearly basis. The Atlanta Sports Awards honors those who distinguish themselves from among the five million people living in Atlanta. That includes all professional sports teams, universities, junior colleges and more than 250 public and private high schools in Atlanta. For more information visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/events/featured/atlanta-sports-awards

About the Atlanta Sports Council

The Atlanta Sports Council (ASC), a division of the Metro Atlanta Chamber, facilitates the growth and development of sports in metro Atlanta by serving as a recruiter for major regional, national and international sports events. The organization plays an important role in improving the quality of life for residents in the region through sports, working to drive economic growth and visibility and acting as an advocate for area teams and annual sports events. For more information, visit https://www.metroatlantachamber.com/councils/atlanta-sports-council.

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