Philadelphia Eagles defensive end CHRIS LONG was named the 2018 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE, the NFL announced today. Considered one of the league’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. First established in 1970, the national award was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back WALTER PAYTON. The announcement was made during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special held at Fox Theatre in Atlanta that will air nationally at 9 PM (ET and PT) on CBS tonight.
New this year, prior to kickoff of Super Bowl LIII, all 32 Man of the Year finalists will be recognized on-field, as a testament to each of their contributions to the game and to their communities. The Man of the Year Finalist Pregame Moment will culminate with the introduction of Long as the 2018 award recipient.
“Chris Long continues to amaze and inspire us with his generous spirit and tireless commitment to many communities and cities,” said NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL. “He is a role model for us all, as he exemplifies the legacy of service and leadership that this recognition represents. We congratulate him on this well-deserved award.”
“Long’s dedication to making a difference in his community is a shining example of the positive impact one person can make in the lives of others.” said Nationwide Chief Marketing Officer TERRANCE WILLIAMS. “Nationwide congratulates Long on being named this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year and thanks all the nominees for their service.”
This is the second time Long has been named his team’s Man of the Year. In 2015, after being named the St. Louis Rams’ Man of the Year, Long established The Chris Long Foundation. The mission of The Chris Long Foundation is to engage and create programs focused around four main philanthropic causes: clean water, military appreciation, homelessness and youth.
Notably, Long also celebrated his 10th season playing in the NFL by donating his entire year’s salary, roughly $1 million, to support educational initiatives in the cities in which he has played, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia. This groundbreaking donation was not in isolation, however, as Long used the occasion to encourage his fans to join him in the effort—raising an additional $750,000 through that outreach, which was donated to Summer Search in Boston and Philadelphia, as well as College Bound and Little Bit in St. Louis.
In 2018, Long continued more than a decade of community service by creating his First Quarter for Literacy program and donating 100% of his first four game checks to fund the program. First Quarter for Literacy provides under-served Philadelphia families, and families nationwide, with free books, literacy resources and mentoring services.
Earlier in 2018, Long conquered Mt. Kilimanjaro for the third time alongside 11 current and former NFL players and U.S. military veterans as part of his Conquering Kili initiative. The initiative brings together a class of combat veterans, giving them the opportunity to continue serving others by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money to build clean water wells for East Africa. Additionally, as a founding member of the Players’ Coalition Task Force, Long has taken his solution-focused efforts and used his platform to elevate the voice of others., Long has taken a hands-on, leadership role in the Players’ Coalition’s efforts to reform the bail system in Philadelphia and beyond, working specifically on educational equality, police and community relations and criminal justice reform.
Long will receive $500,000, half of which will go to a charity of his choice and half of which will support the expansion of Character Playbook across the country. Character Playbook is the NFL and United Way’s digital education program. 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.