"I've been fortunate to accomplish a lot on the football field, and much of that is because I had the solid support of my parents and the University of North Carolina," says Bly. "My parents are teachers and taught me the value of an education. I loved my time in Chapel Hill and know I was able to attend UNC because of the generous support of Rams Club donors. It is a great opportunity to now be able to return the favor to future Tar Heels."
Bly just completed his fifth season in the NFL and first with the Lions. Always a fan favorite at Carolina, Bly was first among NFC cornerbacks in Pro Bowl fan balloting this season with 242,369 votes, and will start in the Feb. 8 game in Honolulu.
"Dre' Bly loves football, his family and the University of North Carolina,"says head coach John Bunting. "He is a special young man. I enjoyed coaching him with the Rams because he had so much enthusiasm for the game of football and he loved talking about his Tar Heels. He was so thrilled for me to come back as head coach and now I am thrilled he has stepped forward to help our University in such a meaningful way."
A Tar Heel standout from 1996-98, Bly is the only three-time first-team All-America football player in Atlantic Coast Conference history. He was the fifth freshman in college football history to earn first-team Associated Press All-America honors when he was named to the team in 1996. He set an ACC single-season record and led the NCAA in interceptions that year with 11 and added two more in the Gator Bowl win over West Virginia.
The Chesapeake, Va., native, finished his college career with 20 regular-season interceptions and led the Tar Heels to two Top 10 national finishes.
A second-round draft pick of the St. Louis Rams in April 1999, Bly earned a Super Bowl championship ring with Rams in his rookie season. His fourth-quarter interception led to the game-winning touchdown drive in the 2000 NFC championship game win over Tampa Bay.
Bly has 20 career interceptions in the NFL. Last year, he had six interceptions, seventh-most in the NFL. "Dre' Bly is not only one of the greatest football players in ACC history, he is also of one Carolina's biggest fans," says the Rams Club's Montgomery. "His parents gave Dre' great insight to the value of higher education. He appreciates the experiences he had at Carolina and is excited to provide similar opportunities to other Tar Heel student-athletes. We are proud of his support for and commitment to the University of North Carolina."
The Rams Club is committed to supporting UNC's athletics scholarship program. More than 13,000 members provide nearly $8 million annually in support of UNC's program. More than 450 student-athletes received financial aid from Rams Club gifts in 2003-04, and more than 7,000 student athletes have received scholarship support since the Rams Club's founding in 1938.