I am honored to once again be selected as 1 of 3 finalists for the @NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award pres. by @Nationwide. Congrats to @JJWatt and @BenjaminSWatson! I look forward to a great week together!
Panthers Greg Olsen named finalist for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Greg Olsen, J.J. Watt and Benjamin Watson are finalists for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
The recipient of the award that recognizes a player’s contribution in his community and to society in general will be revealed on Feb. 3 at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press announces its individual NFL awards.
Carolina tight end Olsen, who just finished his 11th pro season, has put together two initiatives, one to fight breast cancer, the other to help youngsters with a congenital heart defect.
Olsen’s mother is a breast cancer survivor, and in 2009 he founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. The Foundation’s “Receiving Hope” focuses on cancer research and education programming.
In early 2013, Greg and his wife Kara founded the HEARTest Yard Fund after a routine examination of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). It’s a family service program administered in conjunction with Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.
“We meet with the hospital staff and the nurses and doctors and go into these homes,” Olsen explains. “Just to see and hear the families and have them relay the stories about this program and … what the lives of these families would be like without our program. To hear how it is helping their family life and family dynamic is something far beyond what we imagined.
“It’s been fun watching it grow and have such an impact.”
Olsen broke into the NFL with the Bears. So the Payton legacy is more than a familiar one for him.
“Playing in Chicago for four years, I saw firsthand what the Payton family has meant to the city and the community,” he says. “I was a teammate with Walter’s son, Jarrett, at the University of Miami for a year, kept in contact with him. It’s interesting how many parallels there are. They have a great foundation that does a lot of great work.”
Houston defensive end Watt, in his seventh NFL season and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, had the goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.
His fundraising did a whole lot more, bringing in an incredible $37 million in 19 days. Watt has dedicated himself to finding organizations that will apply the funds in a way he has promised both donors and victims of the storm.
Baltimore tight end Watson, a 14-year pro, assists countless people through his charitable arm, the One More Foundation.
Most recently, One More partnered with the International Justice Mission (IJM), the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization working to combat human trafficking, modern day slavery and other forms of violence against the poor. Benjamin and his wife, Kirsten, joined the global fight to end the scourge of sex trafficking.