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: defensive back Devin McCourty.
McCourty has not just been a cornerstone of the Patriots’ defense since his arrival as a first-round pick in 2010 — a player who helped bring three Super Bowls to New England — but also has actively been involved in the community throughout his tenure with the club.
A member of the Players Coalition, he has also fought for criminal justice reform, public education, and, together with his twin brother Jason, against sickle cell disease. So far, the two brothers and Patriots team captains, have raised more than $2 million through their Tackle Sickle Cell campaign.
Just earlier this year, the 33-year-old has been honored as the “2020 champion” by Boston Uncornered, an initiative driving positive change in local neighborhoods. McCourty has also won the Ron Burton Community Service Award back in 2014, and has been nominated for the Muhammad Ali Sports Humanitarian Award this spring.
Also this year, and with the Coronavirus pandemic forcing students to learn remotely, the McCourty Twins purchased $90,000 worth of Chromebooks for students who did not have computer access in their homes. In October, they followed this donation up with an additional $50,000 to support high school students and their technological needs.
“We are happy to nominate Devin McCourty for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement released by the club on Thursday. “We are proud of Devin’s accomplishments on the field as a New England Patriot, but even more so of his character and his contributions in the community.
“He has been a team leader since he first joined our team in 2010 and his hard work has helped us win three Super Bowl titles and 10 division titles. But his impact in New England extends beyond the football field, volunteering countless hours to help our community. He is consistently one of the most active players in the community and is always eager to volunteer.”
McCourty getting the Patriots’ nomination is nothing new for him. He also was picked by the team in 2014, 2015 and 2018, losing out to another NFL player each year. Now, fourth time might be the charm for him.
“It is a great honor to be nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” said McCourty via the team. “I recognize the opportunity that I have to use my platform to help make an impact in the community.
“I appreciate being nominated for this award because of the man that Walter Payton was and the legacy that he has left behind. Walter Payton embodied the spirit of community engagement. I am humbled to represent his legacy with this nomination, but it is even more important to continue the work and try to make a difference.”
The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony ahead of Super Bowl 55, and subsequently receive a $250,000 donation to a charity of his choice. Furthermore, all 32 nominees — among them former Patriots Trey Flowers (Detroit Lions) and Jacoby Brissett (Indianapolis Colts) — will also receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to a charity picked by them.
On top of it all, fans can also vote on Twitter by using the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s name or user handle. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most during the month between December 10th and January 17th will receive an additional $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third placed players will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations.