Walter Payton Award – rewarding total excellence

In the midst of all the well-deserved hoopla around this year’s Super Bowl, the NFL presented one of its most special awards, one that acknowledges elite performance on and off the field.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes a player for his community service activities as well as his excellence on the field. Walter Payton was not only one of the best players in NFL history but maybe one of its most compassionate as well. His death at such a young age highlighted the fragility of life but also the large impact we can have even in a short period of time. The NFL duly notes the influence of Walter by naming this award after him.*

This year’s winner was the Kansas City Chief’s Brian Waters. Waters has his own story of working through personal struggles, effort that benefited him and through his resultant generosity, so many others in his hometown in Texas and his professional home in Kansas City. You can find a nice piece on Brian in The Kansas City Star by clicking here.

            Walter Payton Award finalists, London Fletcher,
            Brian Waters, and Mike Furrey

These types of awards given by the pro leagues and other organizations may be overshadowed by the great on the field performances of these athletes and sometimes, unfortunately, by the occasional bad act off the field, but they certainly have their place and signify that the best acts are not necessarily the most sensational. They are the ones that influence one person or multiple people the most and that is certainly the case with the Walter Payton Award.

*Each team in the NFL nominates one of its players for consideration for this prestigious award. Each of these players in their own right is worthy of recognition. One player nominated this year, Scott Fujita, comes from the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints. To read an interesting piece on Scott, his background, and his work in the community, please click here to access the article from The Boston Globe.