On Tuesday, the NFL revealed its nominees for its most prestigious honor: The 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Since the award’s inception in 1970, each season, one player from each team is nominated for their “excellence on the field, and whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game.” It’s kind of a big damn deal because outside of being recognized for their philanthropic efforts, each nominee receives up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice while the winner receives a much larger $250,000 donation for the same purpose.
“The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the League’s most prestigious honor and these 32 men represent their many teammates who do incredible things in their communities,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Their unwavering commitment to their hometowns and team communities embodies Walter’s spirit of giving back in a way that makes us all incredibly proud of the work they are doing every day.”
So who are this year’s nominees? I’m glad you asked:
- Arizona Cardinals: Kelvin Beachum
- Atlanta Falcons: Mike Davis
- Baltimore Ravens: Bradley Bozeman
- Buffalo Bills: Harrison Phillips
- Carolina Panthers: D.J. Moore
- Chicago Bears: Jimmy Graham
- Cincinnati Bengals: Sam Hubbard
- Cleveland Browns: Denzel Ward
- Dallas Cowboys: Dak Prescott
- Denver Broncos: Justin Simmons
- Detroit Lions: Jason Cabinda
- Green Bay Packers: Aaron Jones
- Houston Texans: Justin Reid
- Indianapolis Colts: Kenny Moore II
- Jacksonville Jaguars: Myles Jack
- Kanas City Chiefs: Tyrann Mathieu
- Las Vegas Raiders: Darren Waller
- Los Angeles Chargers: Corey Linsley
- Los Angeles Rams: Andrew Whitworth
- Miami Dolphins: Jerome Baker
- Minnesota Vikings: Anthony Barr
- New England Patriots: Lawrence Guy
- New Orleans Saints: Cameron Jordan
- New York Giants: Logan Ryan
- New York Jets: Quinnen Williams
- Philadelphia Eagles: Jason Kelce
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward
- San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead
- Seattle Seahawks: Tyler Lockett
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Mike Evans
- Tennessee Titans: Derrick Henry
- Washington Football Team: Jonathan Allen
Of those nominated, Dak Prescott’s name immediately jumped out. I’ve heard wonderful things about his Faith Fight Finish Foundation and its tireless work to not only raise funds and increase awareness of cancer, but to address mental health and suicide prevention, as well as improve the relationships between police departments and the communities they serve.
“Dak Prescott is an awesome example of the great things that professional athletes can do off the field,” Charlotte Jones, Dallas Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer, said in a statement. “Since day one, Dak has used his platform to help make a difference for others. Whether he is working as a cancer advocate, bringing youth and police together for honest conversations or simply writing ‘Ask 4 Help’ on his taped wrist for fans to see on television, Dak wants to be an inspiration to others.”
Another player who has been killing it off the field all season is two-time Pro Bowler Derrick Henry. When he’s not preoccupied with using defensive linemen as a treadmill, he’s doing things like hosting back-to-school events for the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee through his Two All Foundation.
“I am proud of the work our players do in the community and appreciate the opportunity to highlight that work,” Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel said in a statement. “Derrick has a passion for making a difference for those who are in need and the young people in our community. His leadership on and off the field is a great example of what it means to be a professional football player.”
Much respect to each and every one of these players, and hopefully their charitable acts inspire others to follow suit.