Jar­rett, Pep­pers among Man of Year fi­nal­ists

The Telegraph (Macon) - - Sports - BY BARRY WIL­NER

Julius Pep­pers, Von Miller and Ver­non Davis are among the 32 nom­i­nees an­nounced Thurs­day for the NFL’s Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year award.

Un­like in the past, when three fi­nal­ists were se­lected be­fore a re­cip­i­ent was cho­sen, one player from every NFL team is a fi­nal­ist. All will be rec­og­nized and par­tic­i­pate in NFL func­tions dur­ing Su­per Bowl week. The Man of the Year will be re­vealed at NFL Hon­ors, when The As­so­ci­ated Press’ in­di­vid­ual NFL awards are an­nounced Feb. 2 in At­lanta.

The Man of the Year is honored for out­stand­ing com­mu­nity ser­vice off the field as well as ex­cel­lence on it. It was es­tab­lished in 1970 and re­named in 1999 for the Hall of Fame run­ning back.

“The Man of the Year Award gives us the op­por­tu­nity to ac­knowl­edge 32 ex­em­plary play­ers whose com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence ex­tends on and off the field,” NFL Com­mis­sioner Roger Good­ell said. “This year’s nom­i­nees have used their plat­forms to trans­form com­mu­ni­ties across the coun­try. We are proud of their work and cel­e­brate their ded­i­ca­tion and im­pact through this award.”

A to­tal of $500,000 will be do­nated in the name of the 2018 re­cip­i­ent, with $250,000 go­ing to Char­ac­ter Play­book, the NFL and United Way’s dig­i­tal char­ac­ter ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram. An ad­di­tional do­na­tion of $250,000 will be made to the char­ity of his choice.

The other 31 fi­nal­ists will re­ceive a do­na­tion of $50,000 in their name to ex­pand Char­ac­ter Play­book, and an ad­di­tional do­na­tion of up to $50,000 to their char­ity of choice. All dona­tions are cour­tesy of the NFL Foun­da­tion, United Way World­wide, and Na­tion­wide, the pre­sen­ter of the Wal­ter Pay­ton Award.

“There’s noth­ing like be­ing able to make a dif­fer­ence amongst those who are seek­ing em­pow­er­ment and those who yearn to be in­spired,” Davis said. “If I can en- courage our youth to ex­plore and do what­ever it is they as­pire to do, from paint­ing to play­ing the flute, that fills my heart with joy and mo­ti­vates me to do even more. Mak­ing a change one day at a time is what I live for.”

Jets nom­i­nee Kelvin Beachum was awed to be con­nected with Pay­ton.

“It’s a tremen­dous honor,” the of­fen­sive tackle said. “Just the name Wal­ter Pay­ton, he’s the gold stan­dard. What he did off the field and on the field, his ex­cel­lence is bar none, top in his­tory. So to be men­tioned in the same name and the same breath as him, it’s truly hum­bling.”

The five cur­rent play­ers who have won the award – Drew Brees, Thomas Davis, Larry Fitzger­ald, Eli Man­ning and J.J. Watt – wear a Man of the Year patch on their jer­seys. All 2018 fi­nal­ists will wear a Man of the Year hel­met de­cal be­gin­ning this week through the end of the sea­son.

“Be­ing nom­i­nated for Man of the Year is an ac­com­plish­ment,” Fal­cons de­fen­sive tackle Grady Jar­rett said. “Giv­ing back and mak­ing an im­pact on peo­ple’s lives in a real way is very im­por­tant to me.”


Tex­ans de­fen­sive end J.J. Watt (99) and Bron­cos line­backer Von Miller chat af­ter the Nov. 4 game in Den­ver. Miller is the Bron­cos’ nom­i­nee for the NFL Wal­ter Pay­ton Man of the Year award, which Watt won last year for his hur­ri­cane re­lief ef­forts in the Hous­ton area.

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