New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning has been named one of three finalists for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
San Francisco wide receiver Anquan Boldin and New Orleans tight end Benjamin Watson are the other two finalists as chosen by a panel of judges comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Connie Payton, former NFL stars Anthony Muñoz and LaDainian Tomlinson and the 2014 award recipient, linebacker Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers.
The NFL Man of the Year award was established in 1970 and later renamed in 1999 after former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Every season, each NFL team nominates a teammate to receive the honor, the nominees receiving a $5,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
“My dad (Archie) played at the same time as Walter Payton, and he has some stories and always talked about what a great person he was,” Manning said last month after he was named as the Giants nominee for the eighth time in his career.
“He was a prankster and just a joy to be around and worked extremely hard and my dad has only great things to say about him. From everything wonderful I’ve heard about him, it’s an honor to receive this award for the Giants team. I’m proud of the work I do, on and off the field.”
The MOTY winner, who will be announced during the Fifth Annual NFL Honors awards show on Feb. 6 to be televised nationally on CBS, will receive an additional $50,000 for the charity of his choice, with the two runners up receiving an additional $6,000 for their choice of charities.
No Giant has ever won the MOTY award, now presented by Nationwide, in its 46-year history.
Manning, the father of three daughters, has made helping children his passion. He has served as the Chair of the New York March for Babies for the past seven years, helping raise over $25 million since.
Manning also spearheads “Tackle Kids’ Cancer,” an initiative with Hackensack University Medical Center. Prior to kicking off an extensive media campaign to raise awareness of this cause, Manning spent time with patients and doctors at the hospital’s pediatric cancer center, learning more about the greatest needs in cancer research.
When he learned that there was one children’s hospital in Mississippi, where he owns a home, he and his wife founded the Eli and Abby Manning Children’s Clinics in 2007, kicking off a five-year fundraising campaign that raised close to $3 million.
Building on that accomplishment and model, they also established the University of Mississippi Medical Center Manning Family Fund, which received close to $1.5 million in its first year.
Manning’s other charitable efforts include serving as the Chair of the New York March for Babies for the past seven years, a role in which he has helped raise more than $25 million.
Building on that accomplishment and model, they also created the University of Mississippi Medical Center Manning Family Fund, which received close to $1.5 million in its first year in 2015.
Manning has also contributed his time and resources to the American Red Cross, with whom he and his brother Peyton collaborated following Hurricane Katrina in order to deliver food and supplies to those who were displaced by the disaster, and working on an emergency response vehicle in the days after superstorm Sandy.
Manning also has been a visible presence in the Guiding Eyes for the Blind, an organization that trains guide dogs; the “No More” campaign against domestic violence; Operation Smile; Make-A-Wish; Wounded Warriors; and has bestowed a scholarship endowment at the University of Mississippi.
“It seems like each offseason I find a new one that’s intriguing to me that I want to help out—different causes and different ways to help out other people,” he said.
“A new initiative comes up, or you have a friend, or you have a story, or you know somebody and you want to get involved in another aspect or another opportunity. A lot of them deal with children, helping out sick children and trying to get them back with their families, back home, back in school and living the lives they should be living.”