Broncos safety Justin Simmons among 32 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominees – The Denver Post

Broncos safety Justin Simmons and 2020 All-Pro players Derrick Henry and Tyrann Mathieu are among the 32 men chosen as finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.

Each of the teams nominated one player for the prestigious honor named for the late Payton, a Hall of Fame running back for the Bears. The award recognizes a player for community service and excellence on the field. It has been given annually since 1970 and will be presented at NFL Honors, the TV show during which The Associated Press reveals its individual seasonal award winners.

Simmons, 28, received his third straight nomination from the Broncos for his work with the Justin Simmons Foundation, a nonprofit he established that focuses on a variety of issues, including youth development and hunger relief. He also joined Denver Broncos Boys & Girls Club teenagers Nashara and Naja’Ray, helping them in their efforts to plan and hold a March for Peace in June. He has also volunteered in nearly 40 team-organized community events for 24 different organizations and nonprofits. He joins Wesley Woodyard (2010-11, ’13) as the only Broncos to be honored by the team three different times and first to earn the nomination consecutively.

Titans running back Henry, last season’s Offensive Player of the Year, currently is sidelined by a broken right foot. He was chosen by Tennessee for such work as making a $10,000 donation from his Two All Foundation to Jeremy Taylor, a Nashville firefighter who lost his family home and all their belongings in a fire. For the fourth consecutive year, Henry hosted a back-to-school event in his hometown of Yulee, Florida. Through his Two All Foundation, Derrick donated school supplies, backpacks, and bicycles to 200 kids. In September, he worked with the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee to host a back-to-school event that through foundation sponsors and personal donations from Henry met B&GC’s goal of providing 5,000 backpacks full of school supplies to children in need, including $50 gift cards for 25 children the club identified as the most in need. He hosted those 25 youngsters for an in-person, back-to-school shopping day with additional $100 gift cards, reflecting on his youth involvement in a Boys & Girls Club.

Mathieu, the Chiefs’ standout safety, was nominated for restarting initiatives during the pandemic. This spring, he activated a “Tyrann’s Teachers” surprise and delight along with board members of his Tyrann Mathieu Foundation. Gift baskets were delivered to 32 teachers in the Kansas City metropolitan area. The teachers were selected through a nomination process on the foundation’s website as students, colleagues, friends, and family submitted their favorite teacher by writing an essay detailing the positive impact teachers have left on the Kansas City community.

As the NFL season began, Mathieu and his foundation held their annual “Back 2 School” shopping spree. For the second year, Mathieu and some teammates surprised 32 underprivileged youngsters ages 6-17 from the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Kansas City for a night of shopping and dinner. In addition, each child received a special Nike backpack filled with essentials. He also held his annual “Tyrann’s Turkeys” food distribution around Thanksgiving.

Previous winners among active players are Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in 2020; Baltimore defensive linemen and former Denver South standout Calais Campbell (2019 with Jacksonville) and Arizona’s J.J. Watt (2017 with Houston).

The nominees:

  • Kelvin Beachum, Arizona
  • Mike Davis, Atlanta
  • Bradley Bozeman, Baltimore
  • Harrison Phillips, Buffalo
  • DJ Moore, Carolina
  • Jimmy Graham, Chicago
  • Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati
  • Denzel Ward, Cleveland
  • Dak Prescott, Dallas
  • Justin Simmons, Denver
  • Jason Cabinda, Detroit
  • Aaron Jones, Green Bay
  • Justin Reid, Houston
  • Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis
  • Myles Jack, Jacksonville
  • Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City
  • Darren Waller, Las Vegas
  • Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers
  • Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams
  • Jerome Baker, Miami
  • Anthony Barr, Minnesota
  • Lawrence Guy, New England
  • Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
  • Logan Ryan, New York Giants
  • Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
  • Jason Kelce, Philadelphia
  • Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh
  • Arik Armstead, San Francisco
  • Tyler Lockett, Seattle
  • Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
  • Derrick Henry, Tennessee
  • Jonathan Allen, Washington

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