The Los Angeles Rams on Thursday named Andrew Whitworth (pictured above) as its nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide.
Considered one of the league’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide
recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
Each of the league’s 32 nominees was announced Thursday.
Since joining the Los Angeles Rams in 2017, Whitworth has been a leader on and off the field and active in a variety of charitable efforts.
Next week, he will help unveil the Big Whit STEAM Lab at 112th Street Elementary in Watts as a way to help close the technology gap for low-income students and provide them with the necessary resources to acquire skills and achieve upward mobility.
In October, Whitworth served as a chairman for the “LA Rams Night for Wishes” benefitting the Make-A-Wish Foundation for the second consecutive year. In his role, he recruited teammates to join him and helped raise more than $400,000 to grant wishes for children battling life-threatening illnesses. During the event, he revealed the wish of a 7-year-old boy who is battling cancer and surprised him with a trip to Disney World.
Additionally, in May, Whitworth was a team captain for United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ HomeWalk, the nation’s largest fundraiser to end homelessness and help individuals and families secure the safety and stability of a home. Living up to his deserving reputation as the ultimate community leader, he matched the funds raised by Rams fans with a $16,325 donation and joined his family and fans in the 5K walk.
Whitworth also purchases 50 tickets for every Rams home game and donates them to local charities.
During the offseason in celebration of “Read Across America Day,” Whitworth visited a local elementary school and made a $20,000 donation to the “First Quarter for Literacy” initiative, which is designed to get books in the hands of children in under-served communities.
“The greatest thing in life is to be able to invest in the people around you,” Whitworth said. “We want to make a difference, change the world, create a better place, and all of this starts with our youth. There are multiple ways you can invest in kids. One is engaging, being present and showing your face and the other is the financial aspect and being able to provide the assets they need to help increase their knowledge and empower them.”
“Andrew continuously goes above and beyond to serve the greater Los Angeles community,” said Molly Higgins, vice president of community affairs and engagement, Los Angeles Rams. “While there are many exceptional NFL players doing meaningful community work, Andrew’s unparalleled compassion, the depth of his impact, breadth of his involvement and career longevity puts him in a league of his own. He represents the best of the Rams and the NFL. He is a shining example of a professional athlete who understands and appreciates his opportunity to make a difference − and then makes a difference on a daily basis through both his actions and leadership in the locker room and community.”
During the wake of a series of tragedies that struck the Southern California region in 2018, the team captain donated his game check to the families of the victims of the mass shooting at Borderline Bar & Grill and hosted families in a suite for the team’s LA Together game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
He also auctioned his game-worn jersey to raise money for families affected by the shooting and wildfires that displaced many across the region.
“I wanted to donate my check for the game and let them know that we’re going to wrap our arms around them and be right there with them through all of this,” Whitworth said following the tragedies.
In his first season with the Rams in 2017, Whitworth purchased new bikes and helmets for all 600 students at an elementary school in Watts, one of LA’s most under-served communities. Before the surprise, he spoke to students about the importance of displaying good character and led them in a character pledge.
Aside from his efforts in the LA region, Whitworth has been a community champion in Cincinnati during his time with the Bengals and through The Big Whit 77 Foundation, which impacts the lives of youth and families in his home state of Louisiana. One of the foundation’s programs, Whit’s Warriors, offers financial assistance to high school seniors in Louisiana. The program has awarded $400,000 in scholarships and school supplies.
Another program of the foundation is called Open Arms, which is one of the only programs in the state of Louisiana that offers financial assistance to families in the process of adoption. The Whitworths launched Open Arms with a belief that families, who have the desire to adopt, should not be turned away due to overwhelming costs and have provided $25,000 in funding to support 10 families in their dream of adopting a child.
The most recent program developed by The Big Whit 77 Foundation is the annual Wish List event, which pairs college athletes from ULM and Louisiana Tech with local families for fellowship and fun during the Christmas season. To date, he has contributed more than $25,000 to fund the holiday effort.
As a nominee, Whitworth will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the second year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV.
The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s 5th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.