For the second straight year, tight end Jimmy Graham has been nominated as the Bears' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide, which represents the best of the NFL's commitment to philanthropy and community impact.
Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the award recognizes NFL players who have not only exhibited excellence on the field, but whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game and has led them to leave a positive legacy in their communities.
"It is truly an honor and a blessing to be nominated for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for the second year in a row, especially with the award being named after the great Chicago Bear," Graham said. "To the veterans and youth who I've been beyond fortunate to connect with, thank you for letting me play a small part in your lives. I appreciate the Bears nominating me again and will continue to prioritize making a positive impact in the community."
Graham's community work includes engagement with both team initiatives and his own foundation, The Jimmy Graham Foundation, which provided flights to 50 veterans during this past year. Graham has also donated two tickets to each home game for the Boeing Military Salute honoree. He provided full Thanksgiving meals for all of the youth in Ignite's community and residential programs; in 2020, Graham made a six-figure donation to Ignite, which assists youth experiencing homelessness. Graham made financial contributions to support 250 veterans and their families through the Midwest Veterans Closet turkey giveaway and 375 families from North Lawndale through the Firehouse Community Arts Center Thanksgiving event with Bears Care. Earlier this year, Graham connected with a young man who was initially paralyzed from a gunshot wound and was supported by Devices 4 the Disabled, a Chicago Bears Community All-Pro grant recipient.
Since then, Graham has virtually visited with the young man, invited him to training camp, provided tickets to a game and hosted him and representatives from D4D at one of his airplanes, where he was honored with their Ed Kane Person of the Year Award. Thanks to the support of many, the young man can now walk.
Graham has also been named the Bears' 2021 and 2020 Salute to Service award nominee. He continues to serve as co-chair of the EAA Young Eagles, which is a nationwide non-profit that provides youth with their first airplane trip free and introduces them to the world of aviation.
On the field, Graham is a five-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro. Since 2010, he ranks No. 1 among NFL tight ends in receptions (706), second in touchdowns (84) and third in yards (8,438) and has 17 career multi-touchdown games. He holds single-season records in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns at tight end for both the Saints and Seahawks and is also the career overall leader at tight end for receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for both franchises. He is the only tight end in league history to have two seasons with 1,200-plus receiving yards and 10-plus receiving TDs (2011, 2013) and is the only tight end to register four consecutive seasons with 85-plus catches (2011-14). Earlier this season, Graham became the sixth tight end in NFL history to record 700 career receptions. He joins the company of Hall of Fame tight ends Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates as the only three to eclipse 700 career receptions, 8,000 yards and 80 TDs.
Charles Tillman (2013), Jim Flanigan (2000), Mike Singletary (1990), Dave Duerson (1987) and Payton (1977) have previously won the award as a member of the Bears.
For the fourth year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVI. The 2021 WPMOY will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI, on ABC. All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the WPMOY award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 7th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name and/or Twitter handle. The player whose name is used the most between Dec. 7 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at NFL.com/ManOfTheYear.