JP's Presser - The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

Posted 2:16 PM January 19, 2015 by Jarrett Payton

What a great weekend of football! Now that we have the Super Bowl teams set, it’s time for my family and me to get our bags packed and head out to Arizona. Every year we have the great honor to present The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award is given annually by the NFL honoring a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as his greatness on the field. The name of the award was changed in 1999 after my father passed away to honor his legacy and his humanity. Ironically that was Super Bowl 34. My father was a recipient of the award in 1977.

Each team nominates their finalist for Man of the Year. That group of 32 is narrowed down to three finalists. Each of the 32 team nominees will receive a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation and the winner will receive an additional $20,000 donation in his name. The winner of the award will be announced during the 4th Annual NFL Honors awards show airing on Saturday, Jan. 31, from 8-10 p.m. CT on NBC.

This year the three finalists are Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, Carolina Panthers LB Thomas Davis and San Fransisco 49ers WR Anquan Boldin. Each of the three finalists are great men in their communities and leaders on the field, all very deserving of this prestigious award. Going through all of their bios, you can see the work they do in their communities is outstanding!

Having a chance to get to know and play against Anquan Boldin, I’ve seen him grow as a player and as a person. He has been a leader his whole career. The Anquan Boldin Foundation is dedicated to expanding the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children. In November of last year, Boldin and his wife Dionne personally provided a charitable gift of $1 million to the Anquan Boldin Foundation. This endowment will be utilized to dedicate an annual distribution of scholarships to high school graduates. To find out more about the work Anquan does visit the foundation page

Last year Thomas Davis was a finalist for the Man of the Year award. During last year’s Man of the Year luncheon, I got the chance to sit and talk with Thomas and find out what his passions are. Come to find out we have the same goals in life: to Educate and Empower our youth to become leaders in our community. The Thomas Davis Defending Dreams foundation strives to encourage students to develop the essential life and social skills that will make them leaders of tomorrow. To find out more about the great work Thomas does, visit the foundation page

I’ve have never had the chance to meet Aaron Rodgers in person, but I have seen him play live against my beloved Chicago Bears. Watching from afar I think he is the best player in the NFL right now. But after watching the Youtube video with a young girl named Annie spreading the word about G9 childhood cancer I knew he was an exceptional person. Rodgers started the to create awareness for organizations and people who are changing the world.

Looking at the resumes of the three finalists you can see they all are doing great things to make this world a better place. With all that has happened the past year with NFL players off the field, it’s awards like this that shine light on all the good things players are doing around the league. A big thank you has to go out to commissioner Roger Goodell. Since he’s been in charge he has made the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award bigger than life. He has been instrumental in helping my family keep my father’s legacy alive. All three are great guys, but only one can walk away with the hardware. In my book all three are winners and I look forward to the continued work they do.