Earlier today, the NFL revealed the 32 nominees for this year’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, with one player from each of the league’s franchises competing for the prestigious trophy. The clubs choose their respective nominees themselves, picking players that — according to a press release by the NFL’s communications department — best represent the league’s “commitment to philanthropy and community impact.”
The New England Patriots’ nominee this year does therefore not come as a surprise: safety Devin McCourty. The 31-year old is a long-standing supporter of charitable causes after establishing his McCourty Twins Tackle Sickle Cell campaign together with his twin brother and fellow Patriots defensive back Jason in 2013. Since then, he helped coordinate fundraisers in Boston, Nashville and New Jersey, raising both money and awareness.
McCourty, a team captain for the Patriots, is also making an impact beyond Tackle Sickle Cell. He also supported various other social causes such as (but not limited to):
- Justice reform: He visited Massachusetts State House to advocate for justice reform, more specifically raising the age at which children can be charged in juvenile court.
- Wounded warriors: He invited more than a dozen wounded warriors to a behind-the-scenes tour at Gillette Stadium.
- Adoption: He teamed up with Adoption Rhode Island to promote the importance of adoption.
- Community groups: He invited multiple groups to Patriots training camp, including police athletic leagues, the YMCA’s integration initiative and families battling sickle cell.
- Children in need: He helped unveil new beds for more than 200 children in foster care or homelessness.
McCourty is not the only person with ties to the Patriots to be nominated. Former Patriots defensive linemen Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard are the Philadelphia Eagles’ and Indianapolis Colts’ nominees, respectively. The San Francisco 49ers, meanwhile, nominated kicker Robbie Gould, who spent parts of the 2005 offseason in New England after the team signed him as an undrafted rookie free agent.
The 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony on the eve of Super Bowl 53. A total of $500,000 will be donated in the name of the winner: $250,000 will be given to expand the NFL’s Character Playbook initiative, an additional $250,000 to a charity of the winner’s choice. The other 31 nominees will receive a donation of $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook as well as up to $50,000 to a charity of their choice.