Known to many as “Sweetness”, former Chicago Bears player Walter Payton was known as much for his contributions off of the field as he was for his prowess on the football field.

In 1999, the annual award that honoured a player for his philanthropic work; as well as, his contributions on the field was renamed the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.  The award was first rewarded in 1970 with quarterback Johnny Unitas as the recipient.

Payton himself received the award in 1977.

Each year one member from each of the 32 teams in the NFL is nominated for the award.  The winner is announced as a part of the annual NFL Honours in the days before the Super Bowl.

To date 29 former Man of the Year award winners, including Payton, have gone on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  Kurt Warner was the last player to do so in 2008.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell spoke on the Man of the Year Award saying, “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.  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.”

Each player nominated receives a donation in their name to the charity of their choice.  The winner receives a donation of $250,000 to the charity of their choice.  Many of the players have their own foundations that focus on their local communities.

The 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees are:
Kelvin Beachum from the Arizona Cardinals
Mike Davis from the Atlanta Falcons
Bradley Bozeman from the Baltimore Ravens
Harrison Phillips from the Buffalo Bills
DJ Moore from the Carolina Panthers
Jimmy Graham from the Chicago Bears
Sam Hubbard from the Cincinnati Bengals
Denzel Ward from the Cleveland Browns
Dak Prescott from the Dallas Cowboys
Justin Simmons from the Denver Broncos
Jason Cabinda from the Detroit Lions
Aaron Jones from the Green Bay Packers
Justin Reid from the Houston Texans
Kenny Moore II from the Indianapolis Colts
Myles Jack from the Jacksonville Jaguars
Tyrann Mathieu from the Kansas City Chiefs
Darren Waller from the Las Vegas Raiders
Corey Linsley from the Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Whitworth from the Los Angels Rams
Jerome Baker from the Miami Dolphins
Anthony Barr from the Minnesota Vikings
Lawrence Guy from the New England Patriots
Cameron Jordan from the New Orleans Saints
Logan Ryan from the New York Giants
Quinnes Williams from the New York Jets
Jason Kelce from the Philadelphia Eagles
Cameron Heyward from the Pittsburgh Steelers
Arik Armstead from the San Francisco 49ers
Tyler Lockett from the Seattle Seahawks
Mike Evans from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Derrick Henry from the Tennessee Titans
Jonathan Allen from the Washington Football Team

feature photo credit: 1986 Jeno’s Pizza – 12 – Walter Payton (Walter Payton crop).jpg