Chad Hennings, likely one of the most heralded men to ever play professional football in the U.S., will be speaking at the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival's Tribute to Heroes Dinner in Cedar Rapids this spring. I don't say "most heralded" because of what he did on the field, though. What he's done off it is much more impressive.

Mike Powell, Getty Images

Don't get me wrong, Chad Hennings had a wonderful career in the National Football League, including three Super Bowl Championships with the Dallas Cowboys. A photo from the 1996 title game is above. Hennings played in 14 playoff games in his nine seasons in the league and had career totals of 27-and-a-half sacks, six fumble recoveries, and 269 tackles.

Long before most football fans knew him, Chad was a football star and state wrestling champion at Benton Community High School in Van Horne. He went on to the United States Air Force Academy and starred on the football team, leading the nation with 24 sacks his senior year. He was also named the top scholar-athlete in the Western Athletic Conference. He would be drafted by the Dallas Cowboys, but football would take a back seat for a while.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy, Chad became a fighter pilot. He was deployed two different times to the Persian Gulf in 1991 and flew 45 successful combat missions inside an A-10. During his Air Force career, he received four different awards, including a humanitarian award. Hennings joined the Dallas Cowboys in 1992.

Following his career in the NFL, Chad became a Christian motivational speaker. He's also written three books. He'll be the keynote speaker at the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival's Tribute to Heroes Dinner Thursday, June 20 at 7 p.m., at the Kirkwood Hotel. A cocktail hour begins at 6 p.m.

According to a media release from the Cedar Rapids Freedom Festival, the annual event featuring Chad Hennings is one "meant to recognize those who are currently serving on active, Reserve, or National Guard duty at home or abroad; our Veterans; and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice." They couldn't have made a better choice than Hennings, in my opinion.

Tickets for the Tribute to Heroes Dinner are $45 per person or $400 for a table of 10. You can get more information and purchase tickets HERE.