22:54 PM

Andrew Whitworth named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide

Whitworth, other 31 nominees stand out as community champions

The late Chicago Bears Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton never knew that his legacy would be celebrated in the form of a prestigious National Football League honor bearing his name, but “Sweetness” would be proud of the men who have followed his lead and distinguished themselves as game-changers on and off the field. 

Los Angeles Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth was named the 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide. The announcement was made during the NFL Honors television broadcast leading up to Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles. In the spirit of its namesake, this award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.  

Whitworth’s foundation, The Big Whit Foundation, impacts the lives of youth and families in local communities, including those in Whitworth’s home state of Louisiana as well as California. 

During his six-minute acceptance speech, “Big Whit” reflected on how his position as an NFL player has given him the means and opportunity to help others.  

“We are financially supported and provided the opportunity to play a kids' game, because of the support we receive from communities across the county and across the world. But how are we supporting back?  In what ways are we paying it forward to the same communities we all grew up in, we all came from, or maybe the people that we've seen struggling along the way we got to where we are?” 

He went on to urge his NFL peers to find their own way of returning the support.  

"It's called an investment," he said. "You can apply those … things to any charity or cause you have a passion for. You can invest your time, you can invest your finances or you can invest your voice, doesn't matter which, we just have to keep investing in each other. Let your heart lead you all the way." 

As a standout champion of his community, Whitworth will receive a donation of $250,000 to benefit a charity of his choice, courtesy of Nationwide and the NFL Foundation. Each of the other 31 nominees representing their respective NFL clubs will also receive donations of up to $40,000 in support of their chosen causes or charities.     

“Nationwide is pleased to congratulate Andrew on earning this elite honor for his exemplary service to community and commitment to driving positive change,” said Nationwide’s Chief Marketing Officer Ramon Jones. “Andrew’s extensive work across a broad range of causes that support kids and families has made an incredible impact and, as a company that shares this commitment to giving back, Nationwide is very proud to shine a light on his ongoing efforts to improve the lives of others.” 

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 the company's commitment, Nationwide has also donated more than $1.5 million to the foundations represented by the nominees.   

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