Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award

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The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is presented annually by the National Football League (NFL) honoring a player's volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. Prior to 1999, it was called simply the NFL Man of the Year Award. Shortly after Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton died (having been the 1977 recipient himself), the award was renamed to honor his legacy as a humanitarian. Each year, a winner is selected from 32 nominees from the 32 different teams. A panel of judges, which includes the Commissioner of the NFL, the previous year's winner, and a number of former players select the winner of the award. The Man of the Year winner receives a $250,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. The other 31 finalists also receive donations in their name of $50,000 each to charities of their choice. The Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs have had more winners of the award than any other team, with 5 winners each.

Walter Payton Man of the Year
1986 Jeno's Pizza - 12 - Walter Payton (Walter Payton crop).jpg
Walter Payton rushing the ball against the New Orleans Saints on October 7, 1984, the day he broke Jim Brown's record for both 100 yard games and overall rushing yardage.
Given forExcellence off the field regarding an NFL player's charity work
Presented byNational Football League
First award1970 to Johnny Unitas
Most recentCalais Campbell

Since 2017, previous winners who are currently active in the league wear a patch, depicting a caped silhouette of Steve Wright,[1] on their uniforms for the rest of their NFL careers. The current active winners (in chronological order) are: Drew Brees, Jason Witten,[2] Thomas Davis, Larry Fitzgerald, J.J. Watt, and Calais Campbell. Once announced, the nominees of each team are given a helmet decal, also depicting Payton, to wear for the remainder of the season.[3]


  Player is still active in the NFL
Year Player Position Team Ref
1970 Johnny Unitas Quarterback Baltimore Colts [4]
1971 John Hadl Quarterback San Diego Chargers [5]
1972 Willie Lanier Linebacker Kansas City Chiefs
1973 Len Dawson Quarterback Kansas City Chiefs
1974 George Blanda Quarterback Oakland Raiders
1975 Ken Anderson Quarterback Cincinnati Bengals
1976 Franco Harris Running back Pittsburgh Steelers
1977 Walter Payton Running back Chicago Bears
1978 Roger Staubach Quarterback Dallas Cowboys
1979 Joe Greene Defensive Tackle Pittsburgh Steelers
1980 Harold Carmichael Wide receiver Philadelphia Eagles
1981 Lynn Swann Wide receiver Pittsburgh Steelers
1982 Joe Theismann Quarterback Washington Redskins
1983 Rolf Benirschke Placekicker San Diego Chargers
1984 Marty Lyons Defensive tackle New York Jets
1985 Dwight Stephenson Center Miami Dolphins
1986 Reggie Williams Linebacker Cincinnati Bengals
1987 Dave Duerson Safety Chicago Bears
1988 Steve Largent Wide receiver Seattle Seahawks
1989 Warren Moon Quarterback Houston Oilers
1990 Mike Singletary Linebacker Chicago Bears
1991 Anthony Muñoz Offensive tackle Cincinnati Bengals
1992 John Elway Quarterback Denver Broncos
1993 Derrick Thomas Linebacker Kansas City Chiefs
1994 Junior Seau Linebacker San Diego Chargers
1995 Boomer Esiason Quarterback New York Jets
1996 Darrell Green Cornerback Washington Redskins
1997 Troy Aikman Quarterback Dallas Cowboys
1998 Dan Marino Quarterback Miami Dolphins
1999 Cris Carter Wide receiver Minnesota Vikings
2000 Derrick Brooks Linebacker Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jim Flanigan Defensive tackle Chicago Bears
2001 Jerome Bettis Running back Pittsburgh Steelers
2002 Troy Vincent Cornerback Philadelphia Eagles
2003 Will Shields Guard Kansas City Chiefs
2004 Warrick Dunn Running back Atlanta Falcons
2005 Peyton Manning Quarterback Indianapolis Colts
2006 Drew Brees  Quarterback New Orleans Saints
LaDainian Tomlinson Running back San Diego Chargers
2007 Jason Taylor Defensive end Miami Dolphins
2008 Kurt Warner Quarterback Arizona Cardinals [6]
2009 Brian Waters Guard Kansas City Chiefs [7]
2010 Madieu Williams Safety Minnesota Vikings [8]
2011 Matt Birk Center Baltimore Ravens
2012 Jason Witten  Tight end Dallas Cowboys
2013 Charles Tillman Cornerback Chicago Bears
2014 Thomas Davis Sr.  Linebacker Carolina Panthers
2015 Anquan Boldin Wide receiver San Francisco 49ers [9]
2016 Larry Fitzgerald  Wide receiver Arizona Cardinals [10]
Eli Manning Quarterback New York Giants [10]
2017 J. J. Watt  Defensive end Houston Texans
2018 Chris Long Defensive end Philadelphia Eagles [11]
2019 Calais Campbell  Defensive end Jacksonville Jaguars [12]

See alsoEdit


  • "Previous Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winners" (PDF). National Football League. Retrieved November 12, 2016.
  1. ^
  2. ^ Witten initially retired in 2018, then ended his retirement in 2019.
  3. ^ "NFL reveals nominees for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award". December 7, 2017.
  4. ^ "Johnny Unitas NFL & AFL Statistics". Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  5. ^ "John Hadl NFL & AFL Statistics". Pro Football Reference. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  6. ^ "Warner named Payton award winner". United Press International. February 1, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  7. ^ "Brian Waters named NFL Man of the Year". United Press International. February 7, 2010. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  8. ^ Gardner, Tim (February 6, 2011). "Vikings' Madieu Williams named Walter Payton Man of the Year". USA Today. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Hagemann, Andie (February 6, 2016). "Anquan Boldin named Walter Payton Man of the Year". Retrieved February 7, 2016.
  10. ^ a b "Fitzgerald, Eli both named Walter Payton Man of Year". February 4, 2017.
  11. ^ Bergman, Jeremy (February 2, 2019). "Chris Long named Walter Payton Man of the Year". Retrieved February 2, 2019.
  12. ^ "Calais Campbell named 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of Year". February 12, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2020.