Allen Park, Mich.– The DETROIT LIONS announced today MATTHEW STAFFORD as its 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 Award presented 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.
"Walter was such an incredible person and player and there have been so many influential people, great people that have been nominated – whether by their team or won the award through the NFL throughout the years," said Stafford. "When I think back on the things that we have done as a family, I feel proud of what we have accomplished in the community here. Detroit is a place that needs love, attention and help, and I feel blessed that I got drafted here to a place that needed that. It's been an eye-opening experience for me and a great opportunity to make changes in people's lives. It is a great honor and something that is extremely humbling."
Over the course of his nearly 10 years with the Detroit Lions, Stafford has had an indelible impact on the city of Detroit, the greater metro community and the state of Michigan as a whole.
Stafford's most wide-ranging community commitment has been with S.A.Y. Detroit, which aims to improve the lives of disadvantaged citizens through shelter, food, care, volunteer efforts and education. He made significant contributions to reviving and maintaining the Lipke Recreation Center in 2015 after city budget cuts forced the community anchor to close. In partnership with the City of Detroit, S.A.Y Detroit and his own Score 7 Charitable Foundation, Stafford and his wife Kelly helped reopen the Lipke Recreation Center as the S.A.Y Detroit Play Center in the Osborn neighborhood of Detroit. The Staffords continue to donate their time to youth in the area ensuring that they maximize the benefits of the center, including the modern turf football field, now named Stafford Field.
Additionally, Stafford has been an invaluable ally to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan in highlighting the importance of children's health through his participation in statewide initiatives such as wellness-focused school assemblies and events at which he's talked to students about proper nutrition and daily exercise. These continued efforts have helped highlight concerns related to childhood obesity rates in Michigan and his latest venture includes a series of free exercises led with his voice the through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's MIBlue skill for Amazon Alexa.
Stafford's philanthropy also includes donations to the American Red Cross in times of crisis, providing Detroit Lions tickets to first responders and his dedication to sponsoring deserving families in Detroit during the holiday season dating back to his rookie year in 2009.
"Matthew Stafford has been a great ambassador for the Lions and NFL in the Detroit community and throughout Southeast Michigan," said Detroit Lions Team President Rod Wood. "In addition to making substantial financial contributions to organizations in need, he has privately impacted many families in specific and meaningful ways. Matthew is always looking to do the right thing and we are very proud to have him as the Detroit Lions nominee for the 2018 Walter Payton Man of the Year."
As a nominee, Stafford 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.
New this year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIII. The 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII, on CBS. NFL Honors will be at Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
Five hundred thousand dollars will be donated in the name of the 2018 winner. $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook, the NFL and United Way's digital character education program. An additional donation of $250,000 will be donated to the charity of his choice. All other 31 nominees will receive a donation of $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook, and an additional donation of up to $50,000 to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 4th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee's last name somewhere in the post between December 6 and January 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, 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.