NFL Man Of The Year Nominees | NFL.com

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Harrison Phillips - MOTY Nominee - Bills - Profile Hero
Buffalo Bills Day of Service, at the Butler Mitchell Boys & Girls Club on October 16, 2018. Photo by Bill Wippert

Harrison Phillips

DEFENSIVE TACKLE

BUFFALO BILLS

Demonstrates Excellence on The Field

Harrison Phillips is currently in his third year in the NFL after bouncing back from a Week 3 season-ending injury during his second year. 

During his NFL debut in Baltimore on 9/9/18, Harrison recorded four tackles – including two for a loss. He finished his rookie season in 2018 with 35 tackles, four stops for a loss, and a fumble recovery. Other game highlights include posting a career-high six tackles versus the Patriots on 12/23/18 and a fumble recovery versus the Texans on 10/14/19. On 9/15/19, Harrison batted down two Eli Manning passes and posted a half-sack against the Giants.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year

2020 has brought many unique initiatives that provide opportunity professional athletes to use their platforms for positive change. Harrison did not just say "yes" to making a difference through these challenging times, he implemented programs that made an impactful change to the lives of others.

A program Harrison developed to give back to healthcare heroes also bettered the lives of his youth mentees. Donating $10,000 worth of meals to healthcare workers, he asked his youth athletes in the Playmakers Organization (an organization that works with children with intellectual disabilities) to complete chores or acts of kindness. In turn, instead of an allowance payment, a meal was donated in their name. To further assist frontline workers, Harrison worked with the healthcare system in his hometown to produce videos showcasing the importance of personal protective equipment to slow the spread of COVID-19. He was also one of the first NFL athletes to facetime with pediatric patients to stay connected with virtual hospital visits. To ensure the Playmakers Organization youth stay safe, Harrison put out a call to action for them to submit a photo or video of them demonstrating safe pandemic habits.

This fall, Harrison learned that thousands of students in Buffalo Public Schools (B.P.S.) were facing a virtual school year without having access to internet. Phillips went into action – calling local public leaders, B.P.S. executives, and his team to join him in the effort. After a vast amount of research and planning, Harrison campaigned to his teammates, resulting in a $500,000 donation from their Week 1 game checks to provide funding for internet hot spots for over 2,300 students who would otherwise be without Wi-Fi for remote learning. Additionally, Harrison was part of the Buffalo Bills virtual Inspire Change grant announcements in WNY, and recorded voice messages that were delivered via phone to thousands of families in the B.P.S. encouraging the community to complete their census. 

Before the pandemic hit, Harrison hosted a kickball game for youth athletes with intellectual disabilities, visited military veterans at the V.A. Hospital, and visited a group of teen girls with cancer for Kaely's Kindness "Galantines Day Party." In addition, he was the Keynote Speaker at the 2020 Special Olympics New York Winter Games.

Most recently, Harrison rented out the local drive-in movie theatre for over 100 kids through the Playmakers Organization (the cost of admission was a donation to Foster Love Closet). This season, he is also a Fuel Up to Play 60 athlete mentor, a spokesman for Independent Health's Health & Wellness Challenge, and has plans to continue his outreach throughout the holidays.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past

During Week 3 of the 2019 season, Harrison suffered a torn ACL, sidelining him for the season. Two days after sustaining the injury, Harrison was visiting patients at Oishei Children's Hospital. His deep-rooted passion for giving back was not going to be put on pause. He notes that this visit put everything into perspective, helping him stay strong throughout the season of rehabilitation. As the season went on, Harrison became a pillar in the community, attending a wide variety of Bills Community Relations events that included the Thanksgiving Blitz, Big Brothers Big Sisters Careers in Sports Mentor Night, and press conferences with the Mayor of Buffalo.

Throughout his three-year tenure with the team, Harrison's outreach has not only been vast and impactful, but also long-lasting. For example – Harrison rented out Dave & Busters for a Playmakers Organization event. At the event, he announced that he would host a holiday party and asked the kids to bring toys to wrap and donate to a local long-term care facility.

Since its installment in 2018, Harrison has been a player member of the Bills Social Justice Committee in conjunction with the NFL's Inspire Change initiative. With his position on this committee, he has led and attended several initiatives, including the Bills Community Outreach Tuesday, grant decision and announcements, as well as week-to-week work with underserved communities. Harrison has helped bridge the gap between police and underprivileged youth – working with P.A.C.E. (Police Athletics for Community Engagement) Omaha, and Victory Sports – making a grant announcement to fund youth sports equipment for police cars in Buffalo.

Aside from the work he did with the Bills in years past, Harrison has worked with several local organizations in the WNY community, including WNY Heroes, to help fundraise for the military community, Bornhava to work with children with developmental disabilities, FeedMore WNY to support the underserved, Hunter's Hope to raise awareness for Leukodystrophy, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Buffalo to promote their reading initiative. 

In his hometown of Omaha, NE, Phillips hosts an annual summer camp – helping support youth athletes with developmental disabilities and those who are underprivileged. He also annually provides a college scholarship to two deserving seniors from his alma mater.

Demonstrates Consistency in Positive Character and Models a Lifestyle of Giving Back

Harrison is the Chief Operating Officer in the Buffalo and Omaha chapters of the Playmakers Organization. Through all the outreach he does, he ensures his work remains sustaining, weaving in an opportunity for those he serves to pay it forward. He models a lifestyle of giving back by consistently teaching others how to make a positive impact in their communities.

Harrison has embraced his platform as a professional athlete with his all around good-guy demeanor. He is deliberate and smart in giving, being both proactive and reactive in his outreach. As noted for all the reasons above, the "City of Good Neighbors" and all of its inhabitants – cancer survivors, military veterans, underserved communities, youth athletes, and kids with developmental differences – are better because of Harrison's commitment to serving.