JASON WITTEN of the Dallas Cowboys was named the 2012 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, it was announced Saturday. The award recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.
The announcement was made during the second annual NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special that will air nationally from 9:00-11:00 p.m. ET on CBS tonight.
JARRETT and BRITTNEY PAYTON, the late Walter Payton’s children, will honor Witten on-field tomorrow before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII.
“I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees,” said Witten. “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.”
Through 10 seasons, Jason Witten as emerged as the Dallas Cowboys most prolific pass catcher while becoming one of the best tight ends in NFL history. An eight-time Pro Bowler, Witten is just as passionate and successful off the field as he is on game day, and his career has been characterized by a sincere and genuine interest in giving back to the community where he resides and the community that raised him.
Since becoming a Cowboy in 2003, Witten has been actively involved with many non-profit organizations. He serves as the Dallas Cowboys spokesman for NFL PLAY 60 and, through his own charitable endeavor, Jason Witten’s SCORE Foundation (JWSF), has launched numerous programs and funded several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee.
The JWSF SCOREkeepers program has placed full-time, trained male mentors in six battered women’s shelters throughout Texas in an effort to break the cycle of violence that plagues families affected by abuse. The foundation’s newest domestic violence prevention program called “Coaching Boys Into Men” trains high school coaches to educate their players on the dangers of dating violence.
The Wittens make giving back a family affair, involving their children in the team’s early Thanksgiving Day meal at the Salvation Army and underwriting the Dallas Cowboys Women’s Association’s Christmas of Giving, benefiting families from The Family Place. His annual football camp in Tennessee hosts approximately 1,200 youth each year and is one of the largest free football camps in the country.
Witten joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers. Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include MATT BIRK of the Baltimore Ravens, MADIEU WILLIAMS, then of the Minnesota Vikings (2010) and BRIAN WATERS, then of the Kansas City Chiefs (2009).
All 32 team nominees for the award receive 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. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, CONNIE PAYTON, Pro Football Hall of Fame members FRANK GIFFORD and ANTHONY MUÑOZ, 2011 winner MATT BIRK, and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.
The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will receive the Gladiator statue, an original art creation by the noted sculptor, DANIEL SCHWARTZ. In addition, the player’s favorite charity will receive a $20,000 donation in his name.