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Acho is Bears' Man of Year nominee

Posted Dec 7, 2016

Linebacker Sam Acho has been selected as the Bears' nominee for the prestigious 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Linebacker Sam Acho has been selected as the Bears' nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

The prestigious honor is the only league award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his performance on the field. It has been in existence since 1970 and rewards NFL players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities.

In 1999, the league renamed the Man of the Year award after Walter Payton as a tribute to his greatness both on and off the field. The legendary Hall of Fame running back passed away on Nov. 1, 1999 at the age of 45 due to bile duct cancer.

Playing for the organization that Payton spent his entire 13-year NFL career with makes the honor even more special to Acho.

"To be a nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award means a lot to me," Acho said, "not only because of what the award entails but also because of where I am. I play for the Chicago Bears."

In addition to making regular appearances at local schools and hospitals, Acho works tirelessly to support Living Hope Christian Ministries, an organization that his parents founded in 1989.

Dr. Sonny Acho and Christy Acho have been returning to their native Nigeria each of the past 27 years with doctors and nurses to provide free medical care. Acho has traveled with the group about 10 times, beginning when he was 12.

Without medical care, people in Nigeria have passed away from insect bites and stomach flu, and their lives have been incapacitated by cataracts, hernias and abscessed teeth. But with the free treatment from the doctors and nurses on the mission trips arranged by Living Hope Christian Ministries, the people have Nigeria have been afforded longer and more fulfilling lives.

Acho recently hosted a celebrity waiter night that he said raised $60,000 to help build a hospital in Nigeria.

Three of the 32 nominees for the Man of the Year Award will be selected as finalists in January. The winner will then 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 on FOX.

"We're proud to honor these outstanding men who represent the NFL's best on and off the field," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "Our players have a unique platform to make a difference far beyond the field of play. We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts."

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 the winner's choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets. The other two finalists will each receive a $125,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a $125,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook.

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.

Bears cornerback Charles Tillman was named the 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year, marking the franchise's fifth player to be honored with the award. The team's other winners have included Payton (1977), Dave Duerson (1987), Mike Singletary (1990) and Jim Flanigan (2000).