Saturday, May 21, 2022

NFL Honors: Rams’ Andrew Whitworth wins 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year

Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth is this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, an award that honors a player’s volunteer and charity work as well as his excellence on the field. Whitworth, who will face his former team in Super Bowl LVI, received the award during Thursday’s NFL Honors ceremony in Los Angeles. 

The 40-year-old, 16-year veteran was one of 32 nominees from each NFL team. Whitworth received a $250,000 donation in his name to the charity of his choice. The other 31 finalists each received $50,000 to a charity of their choice. 

Whitworth’s charitable work includes his foundation, the Big Whit 77 Foundation, serves a mission to impact the lives of youth and families in local communities. Through the foundation, the White’s Warriors Scholarship Program has awarded over $550,000 in scholarships and school supplies. 

“Since the start of his career, Andrew Whitworth has dedicated himself to making a lasting impact in his communities and his teams,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “During his five seasons in Los Angeles, he has dedicated his time and resources to social justice efforts that are working to tackle food insecurity, homelessness, and education inequities, including a $160,000 donation just this year as part of his ‘Big Whit For LA Families’ program. These are just a few examples of an extensive philanthropic legacy that Andrew has created. He is incredibly deserving of this prestigious award and we’re proud to name him this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.”

Since 2017, previous winners who are still playing wear a patch on their jersey depicting the trophy for the remainder of their careers. J.J. Watt, Calais Campbell and Russell Wilson are the other active players who have won the award. The trophy is a caped lineman modeled after former offensive lineman Steve Wright, who won three world championships with the Packers that included Super Bowls I and II. 

A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, Whitworth spent his first 11 years with the Bengals, the Rams’ opponent in Super Bowl LVI. Whitworth signed with the Rams in 2017. An All-Pro during his first season in Los Angeles, Whitworth helped the Rams advance to Super Bowl LIII at the end of the 2018 season. Whitworth is hoping to cap off his career with a victory on Sunday. 

Payton’s name was added to the award following his death in 1999. One of the greatest players in NFL history, Payton retired after the 1987 season as the NFL’s all-time leading rusher with 1,726 yards. The driving force behind the Chicago Bears‘ Super Bowl victory in 1985, Payton’s legacy continues through the Walter & Connie Payton Foundation.  

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