12:11 PM

Nationwide proudly continues support of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award

Giving back to others is at the very heart of what Nationwide is. As a mutual company founded nearly a century ago, Nationwide has always committed itself to improving the lives of others through philanthropy and community service.  

It’s for this reason that Nationwide proudly presents the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, a recognition considered the League’s most prestigious honor. Named after the late Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back, the award recognizes players who demonstrate excellence not only on the field, but also in their community.

This year’s winner – announced during the NFL Honors broadcast the night before Super Bowl LV – is Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. As the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Wilson will receive a donation of $250,000 to benefit a charity of his choice, courtesy of Nationwide and the NFL Foundation.

During his nine-year career in the NFL, Wilson’s participation in efforts to support his community and help those in need have made a tremendous impact. Whether it’s work through his Why Not You Foundation (WNYF), which is dedicated to education, children’s health and fighting poverty, or his support of the Seattle Children’s Hospital, Russell has served others in a genuine way and set a positive example for NFL fans and athletes across the league.

In response to adversities created by COVID-19, this past year Russell—along with his wife Ciara—also focused energy toward social justice issues, voter registration campaigns and food security, making a personal donation of 1 million meals to Feeding America.

“It has been inspiring and humbling to see the impact these award nominees and winners have had on their communities, and Russell’s efforts certainly deserve the recognition he was awarded this weekend,” says Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer Ramon Jones. “Nationwide is proud to provide a national platform for Russell and other NFL players to help shine a national spotlight on the work they’re doing to make a difference and to encourage others to do the same.”

Wilson reinforced his passion for service as he was named the winner.

“In life, we're granted the opportunity to have an impact, no matter what sphere of influence we're around,” he said. “Walter Payton was one of the greatest examples of what he was able to do not just on the field, but more important off the field to give back and to serve and to love and to care. For me, to be able to be even mentioned with a name like Walter Payton is one of the greatest blessings I could ever have and one of the greatest honors you could ever have.”

Before Wilson was announced as this year’s winner, 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner Charles Tillman talked to a few of the 2020 nominees about their passion projects and how they feel about being considered for the NFL’s highest honor. Dallas Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith shares how he is using his platform to inspire future entrepreneurs while San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead talks about what he is doing to provide more educational opportunities to students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Since becoming the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presenting sponsor in 2014, Nationwide’s dedication to this platform has elevated one of the NFL’s most prestigious awards to a new level. As part of our commitment, we have also donated more than $1.3 million to the foundations represented by the nominees.

To learn more about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, visit www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.