Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Finalists Announced

Winner to be Revealed at NFL Honors the Night Before Super Bowl LI

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver LARRY FITZGERALD, New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING and Carolina Panthers tight end GREG OLSEN are the three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide, the NFL announced today.

The winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special airing nationally on Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT on FOX.

“Larry, Eli and Greg are not only top-tier athletes, but also men of great character, integrity and generosity of spirit. Their passion for community and helping others is having a positive impact on countless individuals and communities, and it’s something we should all celebrate” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “We commend these impressive men for setting the standard for NFL players and athletes nationwide.”

A total of $1 million will be donated in the name of the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, with $500,000 going to a charity of his choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets. The two runners-up will each receive a $125,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a $125,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. The other 29 team finalists received a $50,000 donation to both a charity of their choice and to expand Character Playbook. Donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year finalists and overall winner are selected by an elite panel of individuals comprised of:

  • NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL
  • 2015 Man of the Year ANQUAN BOLDIN
  • USA Today writer CHRISTINE BRENNAN
  • NFL Senior Vice President of Social Responsibility ANNA ISAACSON
  • MMQB writer PETER KING
  • President of the Walter and Connie Payton Foundation and wife of the late Walter Payton CONNIE PAYTON
  • 2006 Man of the Year LADAINIAN TOMLINSON
  • Presenting sponsor Nationwide CMO TERRANCE WILLIAMS
  • United Way Worldwide CEO BRIAN GALLAGHER
  • One representative each from NFL broadcast partners CBS, ESPN, FOX, and NBC

Below is a brief overview on the three finalists. To read their full nominations or to learn more about all 32 team nominees, visit nfl.com/manoftheyear.

LARRY FITZGERALD (Arizona Cardinals)

Larry Fitzgerald understands the responsibility that comes with being a professional athlete and uses his platform to give back to the community. Continuing a family legacy, Fitzgerald’s charitable work keeps him grounded and in touch with his roots. He looks for ways to increase the impact of his charitable work by teaming with others in Arizona and Minnesota.

Fitzgerald’s foundation, The Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund, has provided grants of more than $1 million to promote reading and technology access for students K-12 and to support efforts to prevent and cure breast cancer and support breast cancer survivors. Fitzgerald has also teamed with national and international charities to serve as a volunteer to promote vision care for children, to fit people around the world with hearing aids and to visit countries in Africa to promote economic development.

Since being drafted by the Cardinals third overall in the 2004 Draft, Larry Fitzgerald has been a leader on and off the field. Since 2004, Fitzgerald leads the NFL in receptions (1,125) and receiving yards (14,389) and has 104 career touchdowns.

ELI MANNING (New York Giants)

A father of three daughters, Eli Manning is a fervent champion for causes involving children. He has served as the Chair of the New York March for Babies for the past seven years, helping raise over $25 million since. Manning also spearheads “Tackle Kids’ Cancer,” an initiative with Hackensack University Medical Center. Prior to kicking off an extensive media campaign to raise awareness of this cause, Manning spent time with patients and doctors at the hospital’s pediatric cancer center, learning more about the greatest needs in cancer research.

Dismayed by the existence of only one children’s hospital in Mississippi, Manning and his wife founded the Eli and Abby Manning Children’s Clinics in 2007, kicking off a five-year fundraising campaign that raised close to $3 million. Building on that accomplishment and model, they also established the University of Mississippi Medical Center Manning Family Fund, which raised nearly $1.5 million in its first year.

A two-time Super Bowl champion and two-time Super Bowl MVP, former No. 1 overall pick Eli Manning has spent the entirety of his 13-year NFL career at the helm of the New York Giants. He holds numerous team records, including passing touchdowns, pass completions and passing yards, and also currently has 199 consecutive regular-season starts, most among active players.

GREG OLSEN (Carolina Panthers)

In 2009, after watching his mother tackle and survive breast cancer, Olsen founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. Greg’s mission through the foundation is to ensure that everyone has a “second chance at life,” like his mother. The foundation’s Receiving Hope program focuses on cancer research, support and education programming. The program has distributed over $520,000 to six hospitals and foundations since 2009,

In early 2013, Olsen and his wife Kara founded the HEARTest Yard Fund after a routine examination of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS), a congenital defect marked by an underdeveloped left ventricle and aorta. The HEARTest Yard Fund is a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte. Since its inception, the fund has distributed nearly $1.25 million to support families’ of babies affected by congenital heart disease.

On the field, Greg Olsen is one of the Carolina Panthers’ best receivers. A four-time team captain and three-time Pro Bowler, Olsen ranks in the top 10 all-time among NFL tight ends in receptions (622) and receiving yards (7,365) and is approaching the top 10 in receiving touchdowns (52).

Below is the list of previous Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winners. Of the 47 award recipients, 24 players are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame inductees are indicated with asterisks:

YEAR WINNER TEAM
2015 Anquan Boldin San Francisco 49ers
2014 Thomas Davis Carolina Panthers
2013 Charles Tillman Chicago Bears
2012 Jason Witten Dallas Cowboys
2011 Matt Birk Baltimore Ravens
2010 Madieu Williams Minnesota Vikings
2009 Brian Waters Kansas City Chiefs
2008 Kurt Warner Arizona Cardinals
2007 Jason Taylor Miami Dolphins
2006 LaDainian Tomlinson San Diego Chargers
Drew Brees New Orleans Saints
2005 Peyton Manning Indianapolis Colts
2004 Warrick Dunn Atlanta Falcons
2003 Will Shields* Kansas City Chiefs
2002 Troy Vincent Philadelphia Eagles
2001 Jerome Bettis* Pittsburgh Steelers
2000 Derrick Brooks* Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jim Flanigan Green Bay Packers
1999 Cris Carter* Minnesota Vikings
1998 Dan Marino* Miami Dolphins
1997 Troy Aikman* Dallas Cowboys
1996 Darrell Green* Washington Redskins
1995 Boomer Esiason New York Jets
1994 Junior Seau* San Diego Chargers
1993 Derrick Thomas* Kansas City Chiefs
1992 John Elway* Denver Broncos
1991 Anthony Muñoz* Cincinnati Bengals
1990 Mike Singletary* Chicago Bears
1989 Warren Moon* Houston Oilers
1988 Steven Largent* Seattle Seahawks
1987 Dave Duerson Chicago Bears
1986 Reggie Williams Cincinnati Bengals
1985 Dwight Stephenson* Miami Dolphins
1984 Marty Lyons New York Jets
1983 Rolf Benirschke San Diego Chargers
1982 Joe Theismann Washington Redskins
1981 Lynn Swann* Pittsburgh Steelers
1980 Harold Carmichael Philadelphia Eagles
1979 Joe Greene* Pittsburgh Steelers
1978 Roger Staubach* Dallas Cowboys
1977 Walter Payton* Chicago Bears
1976 Franco Harris* Pittsburgh Steelers
1975 Ken Anderson Cincinnati Bengals
1974 George Blanda* Oakland Raiders
1973 Len Dawson* Kansas City Chiefs
1972 Willie Lanier* Kansas City Chiefs
1971 John Hadl San Diego Chargers
1970 Johnny Unitas* Baltimore Colts

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About The NFL Foundation: The National Football League Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of those touched by the game of football – from players at all levels to communities across the country. The NFL Foundation represents the 32 NFL clubs and supports the health, safety and wellness of athletes, youth football, and the communities that support our game. For more information on The NFL Foundation, visit: www.NFLFoundation.org.

About Nationwide: Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the U.S. and is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. The company provides a full range of insurance and financial services, including auto, commercial, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; banking and mortgages; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com.
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