ANQUAN BOLDIN, ELI MANNING, BENJAMIN WATSON
NAMED FINALISTS FOR WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE WINNER TO BE ANNOUNCED AT NFL HONORS
THE NIGHT BEFORE SUPER BOWL 50 San Francisco 49ers wide receiver ANQUAN BOLDIN, New York Giants quarterback ELI MANNING and New Orleans Saints tight end BENJAMIN WATSON 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 during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime special airing nationally on Feb. 6, the night before Super Bowl 50, from 9-11 p.m. ET on CBS.
The winner will receive a $55,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice and the two runners-up will receive an $11,000 donation. The other 29 team finalists received a $5,000 donation. Donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
The finalists were chosen by a panel of judges comprised of NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL,former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, Sports Illustrated writer PETER KING, CONNIE PAYTON, football greats ANTHONY MUÑOZ and LADAINIAN TOMLINSON and the 2014 award recipient, Carolina Panthers LB THOMAS DAVIS.
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.
ANQUAN BOLDIN (San Francisco 49ers)
While Anquan Boldin has amassed an impressive on-field record, he has never lost sight of the importance of giving back to the community. The Anquan Boldin Foundation was formed in 2004 by Boldin with a mission to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged youth. In early 2015, he and his wife Dionne announced a $1 million pledge to increase the impact of their Foundation.
The Foundation offers programs throughout the year, including a summer enrichment program, Thanksgiving food drives offering 300 meals annually and holiday shopping sprees. In the fall of 2015, the Foundation awarded $10,000 academic scholarships to five students entering college and since its inception has awarded 13 four-year scholarships through the “Q81” Foundation Scholarship Fund.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time Offensive Player of the Week Award winner and Super Bowl champion, Boldin is one of the NFL’s most dynamic receivers. In his first two seasons with the 49ers, he led the team in total receptions (168) and receiving yards (2,241). With 1,062 receiving yards last season, Boldin joined Jerry Rice as the only two players in NFL history to record 600 or more receiving yards in each of their first 12 seasons.
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 received close to $1.5 million in its first year.
A two-time Super Bowl MVP, former No. 1 overall pick Manning has spent the entirety of his 12-year NFL career at the helm of the Giants. He holds numerous team records, including passing touchdowns, pass completions and passing yards. Manning has a deserved reputation for delivering in the clutch; from 2006-2015, he is tied for first in the league in initiating fourth-quarter comebacks.
BENJAMIN WATSON (New Orleans Saints)
A faith-based and family-oriented individual, Benjamin Watson has become a fixture in his community. His altruism touches on a number of issues, impacting those in the New Orleans area as well as throughout the country. In 2008, he and his wife Kirsten founded the Watson One More Foundation, which supports existing charities and initiates programs of its own.
Watson is also notable for combatting domestic violence and was one of the first NFL players to join the No More campaign. One of his Foundation’s annual events is the “Big BENefit,” where 25 families from a local domestic violence shelter are treated to a shopping spree to buy gifts for their children and necessary household items. Watson was named was one of CNN’s Most Extraordinary People of the Year in 2014.
With a combination of athleticism, strength and speed, Watson has given the Saints offense an irrefutable boost since joining the team in 2013. Originally a first round draft pick of the Patriots in 2004, he posted 20 receptions for 136 yards and two touchdowns while appearing in 16 games with nine starts in 2014. Prior to the start of the 2015 season, he garnered career totals in 147 games with 104 starts, 360 receptions for 4,138 yards and 32 touchdowns.
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:
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