This is just the third time in the award’s history that co-Man of the Year winners were announced; the other two times were in 2003 with Derrick Brooks and Jim Flanigan and in 2006 with Drew Brees and LaDanian Tomlinson.
Fitzgerald has been very active in his community, teaming up with the American Cancer Society as a spokesman for the Crucial Catch Campaign during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month as well working with Lenovo to donate tablet computers to schools in Phoenix and Minneapolis. He also teamed up with Riddell to bring 1,000 advanced football helmets to 1,000 kids playing youth football in Minneapolis.
Manning has served as a Chairman for the New York March for Babies for the last seven years, and his efforts have led to over $25 million being raised to fight premature birth, birth defects and infant mortality. He has also been active with the American Red Cross and has been apart of many Make-A-Wish and Wounded Warrior experiences.
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award goes to players who demonstrate excellence on and off the field. Manning and Fitzgerald certainly do just that, and they are difference-makers from a philanthropic perspective just as much as they are from an athletic perspective to their teammates and fans. Both deserved the award for their efforts to better their communities, as well as Carolina Panther tight end Greg Olsen, who finished in third place.
Walter Payton was a running back for the Chicago Bears from 1975 to 1987 who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993 and well-regarded by many as the greatest player and person they had ever seen. After his death at age 45 in 1999, the NFL decided to change the NFL Man of the Year Award to the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award to honor his legacy as a humanitarian.