The Miami Dolphins have nominated Mike Pouncey as its 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year candidate. Pouncey has been an excellent asset to the Miami Dolphins organization, both on the field and in the community, since he arrived as the team’s first-round draft pick in 2011. Now in his sixth season with the Dolphins, Pouncey has earned three trips to the Pro Bowl and was selected as one of the organization’s all-time 50 greatest players last year.
Pouncey was selected by his teammates as a season-long captain this year and helped running back Jay Ajayi become just the fourth player in NFL history to rush for 200-plus yards in consecutive games, accomplishing the feat in Week 6 (vs. Pittsburgh) and Week 7 (vs. Buffalo).
Off the field, Pouncey has been even more impressive. He purchases tickets each week so that children, who otherwise would not have the means to do so, can attend Dolphins games. He hosts a charity weekend each summer with his twin brother, Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, in their hometown of Lakeland, Fla. to benefit the Team Pouncey Foundation. Outside of participating in his own philanthropic endeavors, Pouncey also is active with other South Florida charities and partners with many current and former Dolphins teammates to promote their own community events. Additionally, Pouncey graduated with his bachelor’s degree this past offseason from the University of Florida after working toward completion of his degree during his playing career.
Pouncey’s leadership and skill on the field along with his commitment to helping others off the field embodies the attributes Walter Payton exemplified and makes him an outstanding candidate for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The NFL’s Man of the Year award is the highest off-the-field honor attainable by an NFL player. It recognizes players for their excellence both on the field and in their communities. Center Dwight Stephenson (1985), quarterback Dan Marino (1998) and defensive end Jason Taylor (2007) have each won the award while playing for the Dolphins. Miami is one of only seven teams to have three or more of its players receive the honor since it was instituted by the league in 1970. Kansas City has had five players win the award, Chicago, Pittsburgh and San Diego have each had four players recognized as the NFL Man of the Year, while Miami, Dallas and Cincinnati both each boast three award winners.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award, which was established in 1970 and renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton, is considered the league’s most prestigious honor. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community to be considered for the national award.
Three of the 32 nominees will be selected as finalists, and the winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. (ET and PT) on FOX.
A total of $1 million will be donated in the name of the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, with $500,000 going to a charity of his choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets. The two finalists each will receive a $125,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a $125,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook and the additional 29 team winners will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to implement Character Playbook in their club market. Donations will be courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide.
To further celebrate and encourage fan support of the 32 team Man of the Year nominees, Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the Award, will host the second annual Charity Challenge. As part of the social media challenge, each nominee will have a unique hashtag, and fans will be encouraged to tweet using the player hashtags. The player hashtag that generates the most mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.