THOMAS DAVIS of the Carolina Panthers was named the 2014 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, it was announced today.  The award, which is presented by Nationwide, recognizes a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.

The announcement was made during the fourth annual NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special that will air nationally from 9:00-11:00 p.m. (ET) on NBC tonight.

JARRETT and BRITTNEY PAYTON, the late Walter Payton’s children, will honor Davis on-field tomorrow before kickoff of Super Bowl XLIX.

“I am honored to be selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” said Davis.  “This award means a great deal to me, as it symbolizes the valued work that the NFL, its players, and its 32 teams do in the community. I am blessed to have such a strong support system in my family, the Carolina Panthers and the NFL, which allows me to make an impact in the communities we serve.

I would like to recognize the outstanding efforts of each of this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominees.  The collective compassion, commitment and service they provide to their respective teams and communities sets a standard for others to follow.  I would like to thank the National Football League, the Payton family, and Nationwide for recognizing the efforts of NFL players who are following the inspirational leadership and legacy of Walter Payton.”

2014 was another strong season for linebacker Davis, who started in all 15 games he played and finished with his third consecutive 100-tackle season. Davis, a four-year team captain, totaled 129 tackles, 2.5 sacks, two forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and six passes defended. He was a key component of the Panthers 10th-ranked defense, helping the team become the first franchise to claim consecutive NFC South titles. Davis ranks second on the Panthers all-time tackles list with 831.

Off the field, Davis puts his shoulder in to as many charities as he does opposing team ball carriers. In 2007, he and his wife Kelly founded the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation (TDDDF), a non-profit dedicated to providing and promoting free programs that enhance the quality of life for more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families annually. Since its inception, the foundation has distributed more than $500,000 in aid.  The foundation’s cornerstone program, the Youth Leadership Academy, is a 14-week afterschool mentoring program for low-income middle school students.

Davis annually provides two college scholarships for graduating high school seniors who have completed the Youth Leadership Academy program. Through TDDDF, Davis also hosts annual programs including a back-to-school supply giveaway, a Thanksgiving meal for members of a local women’s shelter and a Christmas gift giveaway for underprivileged children, in Charlotte, N.C., parts of South Carolina and in Davis’ hometown in Georgia.

Davis is an avid proponent of keeping youth active and healthy. In June 2013, he led the construction of the first and only playground in his rural hometown of Shellman, Ga. In addition, his annual free football camp provides more than 350 children with instruction in football basics and life skills. Davis is active in the Panthers’ PLAY 60 efforts and is a frequent visitor at the local pediatric hospital.

In April 2014, Davis received the Call to Courage Award, given annually to a Christian athlete who displays exemplary character through both adversity and triumph.  Davis is a four-time Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, and was a finalist in 2013 – the team’s first.

Davis will receive a $50,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice from the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. The two additional finalists for the award, ANQUAN BOLDIN of the San Francisco 49ers and AARON RODGERS of the Green Bay Packers, will receive $10,000 donations in their names from the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. To learn more about the finalists and all 32 team nominees, visit

Davis was chosen from among the 32 team nominees for the award, all of whom receive a $5,000 donation from the NFL Foundation and Nationwide to the charity of their choice. 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, 2013 winner CHARLES TILLMAN, and Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King.

Davis joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award.  Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include CHARLES TILLMAN of the Chicago Bears, JASON WITTEN of the Dallas Cowboys and MATT BIRK, then of the Baltimore Ravens (2011). (Complete list of previous winners is below).

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.




2013 Charles Tillman, Cornerback Chicago Bears
2012 Jason Witten, Tight End Dallas Cowboys
2011 Matt Birk,  Center Baltimore Ravens
2010 Madieu Williams, Safety Minnesota Vikings
2009 Brian Waters, Guard Kansas City Chiefs
2008 Kurt Warner, Quarterback Arizona Cardinals
2007 Jason Taylor, Defensive End Miami Dolphins
2006 Drew Brees, QB (New Orleans) &

LaDainian Tomlinson, RB (San Diego)

2005 Peyton Manning, Quarterback Indianapolis Colts
2004 Warrick Dunn, Running Back Atlanta Falcons
2003 Will Shields, Guard Kansas City Chiefs
2002 Troy Vincent, Defensive Back Philadelphia Eagles
2001 Jerome Bettis, Running Back Pittsburgh Steelers
2000 Derrick Brooks, LB (Tampa Bay) &

Jim Flanigan, DT (Chicago

1999 Cris Carter, Wide Receiver Minnesota Vikings
1998 Dan Marino, Quarterback Miami Dolphins
1997 Troy Aikman, Quarterback Dallas Cowboys
1996 Darrell Green, Cornerback Washington Redskins
1995 Boomer Esiason, Quarterback New York Jets
1994 Junior Seau, Linebacker San Diego Chargers
1993 Derrick Thomas, Linebacker Kansas City Chiefs
1992 John Elway, Quarterback Denver Broncos
1991 Anthony Munoz, Tackle Cincinnati Bengals
1990 Mike Singletary, Linebacker Chicago Bears
1989 Warren Moon, Quarterback Houston Oilers
1988 Steve Largent, Wide Receiver Seattle Seahawks
1987 Dave Duerson, Safety Chicago Bears
1986 Reggie Williams, Linebacker Cincinnati Bengals
1985 Dwight Stephenson, Center Miami Dolphins
1984 Marty Lyons, Tackle New York Jets
1983 Rolf Benirschke, Kicker San Diego Chargers
1982 Joe Theismann, Quarterback Washington Redskins
1981 Lynn Swann, Wide Receiver Pittsburgh Steelers
1980 Harold Carmichael, Wide Receiver Philadelphia Eagles
1979 Joe Greene, Defensive Lineman Pittsburgh Steelers
1978 Roger Staubach, Quarterback Dallas Cowboys
1977 Walter Payton, Running Back Chicago Bears
1976 Franco Harris, Running Back Pittsburgh Steelers
1975 Ken Anderson, Quarterback Cincinnati Bengals
1974 George Blanda, Quarterback Oakland Raiders
1973 Len Dawson, Quarterback Kansas City Chiefs
1972 Willie Lanier, Linebacker Kansas City Chiefs
1971 John Hadl, Quarterback San Diego Chargers
1970 Johnny Unitas, Quarterback Baltimore Colts



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