LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - The 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominees were announced on Tuesday.
Amongst those nominations are the Rams' Andrew Whitworth and the Chargers' Corey Linsley. The winner of the award is given a $250,000 to a charity of their choice, while all 32 of the nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name, regardless of if they win or not.
The award is given to the player who exemplifies greatness - both and and off the gridiron.
Linsley has been giving back since before his NFL career began, but once he was drafted in 2014, his efforts really took off. Beginning during his tenure as a Green Bay Packer, Linsley and his wife were avidly involved in CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates, a foundation centered around providing advocates for abused and/or neglected children. Despite joining the Chargers this year, Linsley joined the team's community efforts, donating to multiple foundations and programs, as well as donating his tickets for the season to local Boys & Girls Clubs, CASA families and local high school football teams.
A statement from Linsley on the Charger's website said:
"It's obviously an honor. The biggest thing is the publicity that goes to CASA and the awareness [that's generated]. Maybe people that haven't heard of CASA before or maybe don't know about it are now interested — whether it's because they want to become advocates or they want to donate and make a financial impact. That's the most important thing about it. My wife and I have been involved with CASA for a number of years now and my wife does a great job with it."
Whitworth, who has now been in the league since 2006, began his own program in 2021, called "Big Whit Homes for LA Families." He donates $20,000 per game home game to local Angelenos, and residents of his home state of Louisiana, who are facing housing insecurities, helping them move into affordable homes.
He hosted 30 military members earlier in 2021, at a home game at SoFi Stadium, providing them with a suite to watch a game. For the fourth consecutive year, he was also co-host for the Rams' Night for Wishes, which benefits the Make-A-Wish Foundation. In those four years he has recruited teammates to assist him in contributing $875,000.
According to the Rams website, in 2020, Whitworth was responsible for contributions worth $215,000 to the players' social justice fund and supported 25 Los Angeles non-profits organizations that worked to address education inequities, community-police relations, mentorship programming, prison reform/anti-recidivism, youth justice, workforce development, financial literacy, food insecurity and homelessness. He also challenged teammates to donate to social justice non-profit organizations, pledging to match all of their donations, following the nationwide trauma that preceded from the death of George Floyd.
In March, 2020, he donated $250,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, financing over one million meals given to those in need.
On top of all of this, Whitworth is also furnishing an apartment for a woman and her three children, whom are transitioning from homelessness to permanent housing.
The list for Whitworth continues on and on, and he addressed his propensity for giving in a statement released on the Rams' website:
"I never forget the moments spent out in the community and I've appreciated the Rams and the job they have done to be my partner in making a difference for people who deserve our support. To me, one of the longest-lasting things we can do and one of the greatest impacts we can have is not only to win football games, but to win in the communities where we live. That's how you create a culture that expands outside your building. Sports in general is about support. I think of it as a father, and I'm there to support and watch them no different than a community is there to support and watch us every single week. My way of showing that support back is to make sure that I'm in the community helping people so they can take that next step they want to take in their life, the same way that I've been supported my entire career. I'm thankful for the opportunity to play in the NFL, but I'm most thankful for the opportunity to impact lives."
In a statement on NFL.com, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell stated:
"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."
The Walter Payton Award was first given out in 1970, before being renamed in 1999 in honor of NFL legend Walter Payton, honoring not only his career but the legacy he left as a humanitarian.
The NFL refers to this award as their most prestigious accolade. The winner will be announced on February 19 at the NFL Honors Award Show.
A full list of nominees:
- Kelvin Beachum, Arizona Cardinals
- Mike Davis, Atlanta Falcons
- Bradley Bozeman, Baltimore Ravens
- Harrison Phillips, Buffalo Bills
- D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers
- Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears
- Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals
- Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
- Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys
- Justin Simmons, Denver Broncos
- Jason Cabinda, Detroit Lions
- Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers
- Justin Reid, Houston Texans
- Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis Colts
- Myles Jack, Jacksonville Jaguars
- Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City Chiefs
- Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
- Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers
- Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams
- Jerome Baker, Miami Dolphins
- Anthony Barr, Minnesota Vikings
- Lawrence Guy, New England Patriots
- Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints
- Logan Ryan, New York Giants
- Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
- Jason Kelce, Philadelphia Eagles
- Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Arik Armstead, San Francisco 49ers
- Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks
- Mike Evans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
- Jonathan Allen, Washington Football Team
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