One of the most prestigious awards in the NFL is the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, designated each year to a player who has shown exceptional character and work both on and off the football field.
The award was first established in 1970, then renamed in 1999 in honor of the great Walter Payton, revered by the nickname "Sweetness," and known as much for his phenomenal rushing on the gridiron as for his humanitarian ways away from it. Each of the 32 teams nominate a player they feel best exemplifies those traits, and the NFL announces the winner on the eve of the Super Bowl.
"Every day, in cities and towns across America, NFL players give of themselves to make our communities better," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a press release. "The 32 nominees for this year's award are the best of the best, and truly embody the spirit of Walter and his legacy of leaving the world better than he found it."
The Miami Dolphins had had three players win the award, Dwight Stephenson in 1985, Dan Marino in 1998, and most recently Jason Taylor in 2007.
This year, the Miami Dolphins nominee for the award is defensive tackle Davon Godchaux.
Godchaux is known for his extensive involvement in Miami’s community outreach initiatives during the 2019 calendar year, including his Chaux Down Foundation, where Godchaux has been heavily involved in community work through events in South Florida and back in his hometown of Plaquemine, Louisiana.
“Just seeing kids come from different backgrounds, it’s kind of like the same background I came from, single-parent household,” Godchaux said. “Just giving back to those kids, Thanksgiving dinner, kids who aren’t fortunate, who can’t afford it, things like that. That’s kind of big to me. That’s kind of dear to my heart. Growing up, I never had anybody do it for me. I always told myself when I make it, when I get some change in my pocket I will always want to go back and do it for those kids. At the end of the day, anytime I can get out, have some free time, away from stuff that I do, whether that’s film study, getting my body right, I always like to give back to the community.”
On the field, he continues to rank among the NFL leaders for tackles not only among interior linemen but for all defensive linemen. He has 60 on the season, which is tied for fourth in the league among D-linemen. He also has 1.5 sacks.
“At the end of the day,” Godchaux says, “it’s all about doing the right thing, on and off the field.”
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter: @EJFootball
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