(East Los Angeles, CA) [From The Editor’s Desk]: The NFL is now accepting all 32 of its teams submissions of their nominee to determine this year’s recipient of one of its most prestigious annual awards, named after Walter Payton, the Chicago Bears (1975-87), 9 x All-Pro, Pro Football’s Hall of Famer (1993), and the 1997 “NFL’s Man of the Year,” In addition to the aforementioned achievements, Walter Payton also was recognized for these additional honors and awards in his career: Super Bowl champion (XX), NFL Most Valuable Player (1977); NFL Offensive Player of the Year (1977); NFL Man of the Year (1977). His #34 jersey was retired and he is an alumnus of Jackson State University.
Derwin James Jr. is the Los Angeles Chargers nominee and is quite humbled to be included on the long-list of potential winners.
Here is the Chargers‘ press announcement regarding their All-Pro player.
ALL-PRO DERWIN JAMES JR. NAMED LOS ANGELES CHARGERS’ NOMINEE FOR WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE
Winner to be Announced at NFL Honors During the Week of Super Bowl LVII
The Los Angeles Chargers recently announced that Derwin James Jr. is the team’s nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE. Considered one of the league’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league’s 32 nominees were announced today.
Currently in his fifth NFL season, James is widely regarded as the preeminent strong safety in the league and currently leads all NFL defensive backs with 106 tackles – fourth-most by an NFL defensive back in the first 12 games of a season over the last 30 years. The only defensive back over that span to top 100 tackles in his first 12 games multiple times, James is also just one of five NFL players in the last three decades to eclipse 100 tackles, four sacks, multiple forced fumbles and an interception at this point of a season.
A team captain and the undisputed leader of the Chargers’ defense, James’ excellence on the field is matched only by his commitment to community service and support of youth programs. James prolific involvement in events throughout the greater Los Angeles area should have been easy to see coming considering when, less than 48 hours after being selected 17th overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, he was visiting local youth football players in Inglewood; ultimately setting the tone for what has become a career of service.
James’ versatility on the field is mirrored in his work away from it in that he doesn’t merely have one cause he supports – he quite literally does everything. Whether it’s leveraging corporate relationships like a Beyond Meat giveaway alongside Snoop Dogg in an underserved Los Angeles neighborhood or helping children with poor eyesight move past the stigma of wearing glasses and get fitted for much-needed eyewear at three different OneSight events hosted by Oakley, James is there.
Surprise an unsuspecting fan with Super Bowl tickets? He’s there. Hide in the Chargers SoFi Stadium team store to surprise a family who had just lost everything in a housefire with a shopping spree to help get them back on their feet? He’s there. Travel to a fan’s home and knock on their door simply to thank them for their support? He’s there, too. That’s Derwin.
James also has a long-standing partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, hosting annual back to school shopping events with club members as well as an annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Santa Ana Boys & Girls Club. This year, in addition to being on-hand to help serve a complete Thanksgiving dinner to over 150 local families, he also helped prepare more than 200 packaged meals that were delivered to underserved families.
James also sponsors the Chargers Impact Fund’s “Community Corner” that provides complimentary tickets to youth and community organizations. Through the program, James will host 300 children from underserved communities this year alone at SoFi Stadium.
Earlier this year, James joined the Chargers Impact Fund in opening a newly renovated field at South Park Recreation Center, helping local high school football players refine their skills on the safe, new, high-quality turf field in South Los Angeles. He also made a surprise appearance at Jordan High School, participating in the reopening of a newly renovated weight room for the school’s football players while presenting the team with new football helmets to go along with the upgraded facility.
James’ community involvement has even touched animal welfare and the work the Chargers Impact Fund does in that space, volunteering to be photographed alongside shelter animals to help raise awareness and funds. Even when rehabbing from a pair of different injuries suffered in 2019 and 2020, James never gave up his positive mentality and dedication to his team and community. While sidelined due to injury during the 2020 season, for example, he could still be found at Chargers’ headquarters helping socialize the team’s service dog in his training to become a service animal for a person with disabilities.
Additionally, when the Chargers Impact Fund sought to provide resources addressing the 2022 baby formula shortage sweeping the U.S., James recorded a PSA with his young family that both raised awareness for the issue and helped drive donations for the nonprofit Baby2Baby in support of ramping up its formula program’s production.
“I’m humbled just at the thought of being named a Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee,” said James. “So to know that I’m the actual nominee? It’s a blessing. All of us in the NFL are blessed to have this opportunity, but unfortunately not everyone makes the most of it. I don’t want that to be said about me. I can promise that award or no award, the James’ family is going to continue showing up for the people in our community who need it most. People need people to care, to listen, to laugh with, to provide them with hope and – most importantly – to believe in them. As a kid, I knew how much professional athletes meant to me. It’s an honor to now be able to mean that to others.”
As a nominee, James will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the 2022 season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
All 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII, on NBC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive up to 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 8th 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 or Twitter handle. The player whose unique mention is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 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.