The New Orleans Saints have nominated veteran safety Roman Harper as a Walter Payton Man of the Year.
This was commonly referred to as the NFL Man of the Year Award prior to 1999, but the unexpected passing of the great Walter Payton sparked the name change to honor his legacy. Each NFL team has a representative selected as a nominee. A panel of judges that consists of commissioner Roger Goodell, Connie Payton (widow of Walter Payton), last season’s winner (Anquan Boldin), and a host of former players all select the winner.
Three finalists will be announced in January 2017. Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the Award, will host the second annual Charity Challenge. As part of the social media challenge, each nominee will have a unique hashtag, and fans will be encouraged to tweet using the player hashtags. The player hashtag that generates the most mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
- 2015 – Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
- 2014 – Thomas Davis, Carolina Panthers
- 2013 – Charles Tillman, Chicago Bears
- 2012 – Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
- 2011 – Matt Birk, Baltimore Ravens
- 2010 – Madieu Williams, Minnesota Vikings
Harper has been doing excellent work through his foundation Harper’s Hope 41. You can read more on the list of nominees here:
Since 2009, Harper launched #ReadingwithRoman, an incentive-based reading program for students in grades Kindergarten-9th grade. He also hosts annual, free football camps and kids days. Another of his major endeavors include a celebrity waiter dinner, to raise funds that will support his other charitable programs including 41 days of Christmas and Kleats for Kids. His new program, Mini Teacher Grants, will provide many of the necessary items for teachers' classrooms that are sometimes a struggle for them to purchase. Harper's most recent activity was his Substitute Teacher for the Day initiative, where he taught Psychology, Algebra, English, Industrial Technology, and Sociology. He feels that an individual, who gives of his time, makes the greatest impact of a child's life.