NFL MAN OF THE YEAR: Dallas Cowboys Jason Witten wins prestigious Walter Payton and Bart Starr awards
Jason Witten’s offseason of recognition continues.
The veteran Dallas Cowboys tight end was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year on Saturday. The award recognizes community service and playing excellence.
The announcement was made during the NFL Honors presentation, which will air on CBS at 9 p.m. Saturday.
Also this week, Witten was presented the Bart Starr Award for outstanding character and leadership in the community, at home and on the field. Last weekend, he made his eighth Pro Bowl game appearance.
“I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees,” Witten said in a statement released by the Cowboys. “I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team – but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate, to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was.
“Like others before me, I have a great opportunity as an NFL player to make a difference in the lives of others. It is honestly humbling to be recognized in such a manner for simply doing what I feel is right and human. I am fortunate to have a great support system in my family, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL which allows me to make an impact in the communities and with people who love our game.”
Jarrett and Brittney Payton, the son and daughter of the late Payton, will recognize Witten’s award on the field before the kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII.
Witten, who finished his 10th season last year with the Cowboys, set an NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end last year. Off the field, he has served as the Cowboys’ spokesman for NFL Play 60 and has his own charity, Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation, which has started many programs and funded building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee.
The Witten SCORE Foundation’s SCOREkeepers program has placed full-time, trained male mentors in six battered women’s shelters throughout Texas in an attempt to stop a cycle of family violence. The foundation’s latest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.
The Witten’s also involve their children in serving a Thanksgiving meal to the clients at the Salvation Army in Dallas, underwrite the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association’s Christmas of Giving, and Witten’s free football camp in Tennessee draws some 1,200 campers each year.
Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include Matt Birk of the Baltimore Ravens, Madieu Williams of the Minnesota Vikings (2010) and Brian Waters of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009). Seventeen Hall of Fame players have won the award.
All 32 team nominees received a $1,000 donation from NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. The three Man of the Year finalists received an additional $5,000 donation in their name. As the winner, Witten receives an additional $20,000 donation.
The selection panel was comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Connie Payton, Pro Football Hall of Fame members Frank Gifford and Anthony Munoz, 2011 winner Matt Birk and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten is a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year for the second time in his career. Witten also was a finalist in 2007 when Jason Taylor won.
Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Browns tackle Joe Thomas are the other finalists, announced at halftime of the AFC Championship. The NFL will announce the winner Feb. 2, the night before Super Bowl XLVII, during its NFL Honors prime-time special.
Witten is involved in a number of charities, but his passion is The Jason Witten SCORE Foundation. SCORE, which stands for Support, Community, Overcome, Rebuild, Educate, supports families affected by domestic violence.
He has funded several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee, and the SCOREkeepers program is a unique initiative placing full-time, trained male mentors in battered women’s shelters throughout Texas. The mentors demonstrate positive male behavior to the children in these shelters in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse. JWSF has placed SCOREkeepers in six shelters across Texas, and Witten hosts children from these shelters for special events throughout the year. The foundation’s newest domestic violence prevention program, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.
Witten set two NFL records this season for most catches by a tight end in a game (18) and most catches by a tight end in a season (110).
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which is based on a player’s community service as well as excellence on the field, is given annually. The Cowboys have had two winners in the 43-year history of the award: Roger Staubach won it in 1978 and Troy Aikman in 1997.
The Man of the Year’s designated charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Charities selected by the other 31 team finalists each receive a $1,000 donation. The three finalists for the award also receive an additional $5,000 each.
RELATED: Payton Award finalists: Fitzgerald, Thomas, Witten
NEW YORK (AP) – Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals, Joe Thomas of the Cleveland Browns and Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys are finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
The award will be presented in New Orleans, when The Associated Press announces the winners of its annual NFL honors, including Most Valuable Player, in a two-hour prime-time special on Super Bowl eve.
The show, “NFL Honors,” will be broadcast on CBS on Feb. 2 at 9 p.m.
The only league award that recognizes a player’s community service as well as his playing excellence, the Walter Payton winner will have a $20,000 donation made in his name to his favorite charity.
Fitzgerald, Thomas and Witten were chosen from among the 32 team nominees, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name.
The selection panel includes NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and Connie Payton, widow of the Hall of Fame running back.