Tight end Greg Olsen has been named one of three finalists for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Giants quarterback Eli Manning are the other finalists.
The winner of the prestigious award, which recognizes a player for his community service as well as his excellence on the field, will be announced during NFL Honors on the eve of the Super Bowl on February 4 (8-10 p.m. ET/PT on FOX).
Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis won the honor two years ago.
On the field, Olsen is one of the NFL’s best tight ends. A four-time team captain and three-time Pro Bowler, Olsen this past season became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Off the field, Olsen’s impact has been immeasurable. In 2009, after watching his mother tackle and survive breast cancer, Olsen founded Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation. Then, in 2013, Olsen and his wife, Kara, created the HEARTest Yard Fund after a routine examination of their unborn son, T.J., revealed the infant had a rare condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. T.J. survived a series of surgeries and is now a thriving 4-year-old, and the program his father founded now provides invaluable support for other families impacted by the congenital heart disease.
“Greg has an incredible heart. I love the guy,” Davis said. “After everything he faced with his son’s surgeries, he never turned his back on his team and never walked away from serving the community. He is an outstanding friend, father and teammate, and someone I truly admire.”
The Walter Payton Man of the Year – selected from one nominee from each NFL team – will receive a total of $1 million donated in his name, 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 runners-up 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, 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. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, presenting sponsor Nationwide, and United Way Worldwide.
Earlier this month, Olsen earned a $25,000 donation from presenting sponsor Nationwide for winning the Charity Challenge by getting more than 1.2 million uses on Twitter of the hashtag #OlsenWPMOYChallenge.