Allen Park, Mich.— The Detroit Lions announced today LB Devon Kennard as the team's nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Awardpresented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced today.
"To me, the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award stands for excellence on and off the field," said Kennard. "As I reflect on every player who has ever won this award I see one common thread; a group of men who are exceptional football players, but at some point made the realization that real success is helping others succeed and grow. Their life's work reflects this realization. Youth mentorship, education and literacy have been a passion of mine since entering the NFL six years ago and I'm excited to shed light on the amazing organizations I have had the honor of working with here in Detroit. I want to personally thank my family, Mrs. Ford, Coach Patricia, all my teammates and the community relations department here in Detroit."
Since joining the Lions in 2018, Kennard has worked closely with the Midnight Golf Program in Detroit and created his own "Devon Kennard Scholarship Fund" in 2019 for students involved with the organization. Through mentorship and skill building, the Midnight Golf Program helps under-served youth transition from high school to college and into a professional career. Kennard's scholarship includes a detailed application process for students, as well as an essay submission that is reviewed and selected by Kennard himself.
Following the 2018 season, Kennard was instrumental in helping launch the team's new player-driven social justice initiative, Detroit Lions Inspire Change. As part of the initiative this summer, Kennard and several teammates participated in "Talk It Up Thursday." The event was hosted by the Detroit Police Department and Men of Courage organization as Lions players and a panel of male students reflected on social resiliency and how to succeed despite negative circumstances. Kennard has worked closely with his teammates and the Lions Community Relations team to expand the Inspire Change initiative in 2020.
Additionally, Kennard spent the majority of his 2019 oﬀseason in his hometown of Phoenix, Ariz., where he volunteered his time at the first-annual "Hogs and Dawgs" Lineman Academy. The camp provided an opportunity for high school student-athletes from all over the state of Arizona to receive offensive and defensive line coaching from Kennard and his father, Derek Kennard Sr. Kennard was also elected the Lions' Fuel Up To Play 60 representative for the NFL in 2019. As part of the campaign, Kennard has participated in various youth camps to help educate kids on the importance of maintaining healthy eating habits as a way of establishing a more positive lifestyle.
LIONS HEAD COACH MATT PATRICIA
"Since joining our team last season, Devon has exemplified what it means to be a man of the community through his platform as an NFL player. His natural leadership skills on the football field translate to who he is as a person and the example he sets for people of all ages in our city. He is a team captain for a reason and we are very proud to have him as our nominee for the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award."
MIDNIGHT GOLF PROGRAM FOUNDER RENEE FLUKER
"We are immensely grateful for Devon's support of the Midnight Golf Program. Our work to ensure the college, career and life success of Detroit area students closely aligns with the way he wants to make an impact through his professional platform. It also fits in the way he and his family are making an impact as he established a scholarship fund for the students of Midnight Golf to assist in their pursuit of college success. More than a financial investment, he takes the time to meet and forge meaningful relationships with Midnight Golf students."
As a nominee, Kennard will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the second year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV. The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 5th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.