The NFL recently announced the 32 nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. One of the nominees is Michael Thomas, an Aldine ISD graduate. The former Nimitz High School football star currently plays for the New York Giants.
Considered one of the NFL’s most prestigious awards, the honor has more to do with what players do off the field rather than on the field. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award goes to the player who does the most for his community.
Current players who have won the award include J.J. Watt (2017), Eli Manning and Larry Fitzgerald (2016 co-winners), Thomas Davis (2014) and Drew Brees (2006). The previous winners wore a patch of Payton shrouded in a cloak.
Thomas is being lauded for the community work he and is wife have done in every community he has played for including Miami and New York. However, Thomas never forgot where he came from. For the past four years, Thomas has held his summer Mike T Camp in Aldine. The focus of the camp isn’t just on football skills. Thomas’ real goal is to push education “to make a real change in people’s lives.” In 2018, Thomas provided the first Mike T Camp $10,000 academic scholarship.
Thomas stated in a recent interview that if he were named the winner, the award would not be for him. It would be for his family, the NFL, the Giants organization, everyone he has helped and his teammates.
“It’s a humbling experience to be nominated by my peers,” said Thomas. “This is a special honor considering the caliber of recipients who have won the award in past years.”
All the finalists will be recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIII.
The 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors. This will be a two-hour prime time awards special to air nationally on Feb. 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII, on CBS. NFL Honors will be at Fox Theatre in Atlanta.
A total of $500,000 will be donated in the name of the 2018 winner. Of this amount, $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook, which is the NFL and United Way’s digital character education program. An additional donation of $250,000 will be donated to the charity of his choice. 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.
Fans are encouraged to take part in Nationwide’s fourth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee’s name somewhere in the post between Dec. 6 and Jan. 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Aldine ISD is supporting Thomas and encourages everyone to go on Twitter and use “#wpmoychallenge Thomas” in a tweet. Retweets also count as votes.
For more information on the nominees and the award, visit NFL.com/manoftheyear.
Director of Written Communication & Spanish Media
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