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Brown's Catena Named NFF Gold Medal Co-Recipient

Dr. Tom Catena was an honorable mention All-America and first-team All-Ivy selection as a nose guard in 1985.
Dr. Tom Catena was an honorable mention All-America and first-team All-Ivy selection as a nose guard in 1985.

NFF Release

Courtesy of the National Football Foundation

IRVING, Texas -- The National Football Foundation & College Football Hall of Fame (NFF) announced that Dr. Tom G. Catena and George M. Weiss have been named the co-recipients of the 2014 NFF Gold Medal.

Catena, a world-renowned doctor, global humanitarian and an All-American football player from Brown, and Weiss, an accomplished venture capitalist who has devoted more than four decades to helping guide the NFF, will be honored during the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.

"In selecting Tom Catena and George Weiss, the NFF Awards Committee and its chairman Jack Ford have identified two exceptional individuals who have made significant contributions to society and the sport of football," said NFF President & CEO Steve Hatchell. "Tom Catena symbolizes everything that our organization represents. He was powerhouse as a football player who distinguished himself as an exceptional leader at Brown. He took those same skills and turned himself into a doctor, helping the less fortunate in the war torn region of the Sudan. Many of us dream of making the world a better place. Tom Catena has given up all his earthly possession to do that every day of his life. He is off the charts in making the world a better place.

"And George Weiss clearly ranks among the most influential board members in the history of the National Football Foundation. His passion for our mission began more than four decades ago, and his efforts have made a critical impact on our ability to inspire the millions of young people who play our great game each year."

The highest and most prestigious award presented by the National Football Foundation, the Gold Medal recognizes an outstanding American who has demonstrated integrity and honesty, achieved significant career success, and has reflected the basic values of those who have excelled in amateur sport, particularly football.

"We are thrilled to recognize the extraordinary accomplishments of these two great leaders with our highest honor," said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. "A truly remarkable individual, Tom Catena stands as an inspiration to us all, having created a powerful path for making a difference in one of the bleakest places on earth. His role in the Sudan in providing medical care has become so critical that it has taken us more than a year to arrange to bring him back for the event, and this December marks the first Christmas in 13 years that he will be able to spend with his family in America. As for George Weiss, he simply has provided top-level counsel to every president and chairman of the National Football Foundation since the 1960s and his countless contributions have made a lasting impact that will benefit the future of our sport for many years to come."

Originally presented to President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the NFF Annual Awards Dinner in 1958, the Gold Medal boasts an impressive list of past recipients, including seven presidents, four generals, three admirals, one Supreme Court Justice, 29 corporate CEOs and chairmen, actor John Wayne and baseball immortal Jackie Robinson. Catena and Weiss will become the 60th and 61st recipients of the NFF Gold Medal. (See below for the full list of past recipients.)

Catena and Weiss will be honored at the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 9 at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. They will be honored alongside the recipients of the other NFF Major Awards, including Jim Host (Outstanding Contribution to Amateur Football Award), Duke Athletics Director Kevin White (John L. Toner Award for excellence in athletics administration), Frank Beckmann (Chris Schenkel Award for excellence in broadcasting) and the yet-to-be-announced recipient of the NFF Distinguished American Award.

In addition to the presentation of the NFF Major Awards, the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner will provide the stage for the induction of the 2014 College Football Hall of Fame Class; the presentation of the 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Awards, presented by Fidelity Investments; and the bestowing of the 25th NFF William V. Campbell Trophy to the nation’s top scholar-athlete.

 This year’s College Football Hall of Fame Class includes: Dre Bly (North Carolina), Tony Boselli (Southern California), Dave Butz (Purdue), Shane Conlan (Penn State), Joe Hamilton (Georgia Tech), John Huard (Maine) Darrin Nelson (Stanford), Willie Roaf (Louisiana Tech), John Sciarra (UCLA), Sterling Sharpe (South Carolina), Leonard Smith (McNeese State), Derrick Thomas (Alabama), LaDainian Tomlinson (TCU), Wesley Walls (Mississippi) and coaches Mike Bellotti (Chico State [Calif.], Oregon) and Jerry Moore (North Texas, Texas Tech and Appalachian State). The 2014 NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class, presented by Fidelity Investments, will be announced on Oct. 30, and the winner of the Campbell Trophy will be announced live at the event on Dec. 9.

For ticket information regarding the 57th NFF Annual Awards Dinner, please contact NFF Director of External Relations Will Rudd at 972.556.1000 or

Dr. Tom Catena Biography
Born and raised in Amsterdam, N.Y. in a family of seven children, Tom Catena '86 attended Brown University, studying mechanical engineering. He excelled both in the classroom and on the football field, winning honors as an Honorable Mention All-American and All-Ivy League nose guard while becoming a Rhodes Scholar candidate.
Upon graduation, Catena decided to pursue a medical career, and he enrolled at the Duke University School of Medicine in 1988 on a U.S. Navy scholarship. He entered the United States Navy in 1992, becoming a Naval Flight Surgeon. After fulfilling his Navy obligation, he completed a residency in family medicine at Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind. During his residency, he began his medical foray into the developing world with mission trips to Guyana and Honduras. In 1999, he began his service as a missionary doctor, becoming a volunteer physician with the Catholic Medical Mission Board at hospitals in Mutomo and Nairobi, Kenya.
In 2007, Catena became the medical director and sole physician at Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountain region of the Sudan, a country where civil war has been raging for years. He established the facility with Bishop Macram Gassis, and on opening day in 2008, he treated more than 200 patients. Since then, he has continued at a relentless pace, dealing with everything from malaria and leprosy to brain surgery. His intense and unyielding responsibilities extend to training nurses and hospital administration.
In 2011, the civil war escalated and conditions at the hospital became more intense. In addition to those wounded by the fighting, many of them children, Catena and his staff faced a particularly severe malaria outbreak. He was given the choice to evacuate, but he refused, stating, "As the only doctor in the only hospital in the region, I could not leave in good conscience."
A young Washington, D.C. doctor, who worked with Catena for five weeks in the Sudan, chronicled his experiences in an essay, "Always on Call." The Lancet, the premier British medical journal, published the essay in 2008, claiming the Wakley Prize as the top article on a clinical topic of international health importance. He was named a "Catholic Hero" by Catholic Digest in 2010, and he has been quoted in numerous international publications, reporting on the ongoing civil war in the Sudan. Catena’s many accolades include the 2013 Brown Alumni Association Williams Rogers Award and being recognized as a 2013 Ivy Football Association Honoree.