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NFL Man of the Year Nominees 2021 | 49ers |


Arik Armstead


Table inside Article
Position College Years in the NFL
Defensive Lineman University of Oregon 7

Demonstrates Excellence on The Field

The 49ers selected Arik Armstead (6-7, 290) in the first round (17th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft. Throughout his seven-year career (2015-21), Arik has appeared in 85 games (66 starts) and registered 219 tackles, 23.5 sacks, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. In 2019, Arik registered single-season career highs in tackles (54), sacks (10.0), passes defensed (two), forced fumbles (two), and fumble recoveries (one). His 10.0 sacks led the team and ranked tied for 15th in the NFL last season. He signed a five-year contract extension with the team on March 16, 2020.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year

Arik is a defensive force on the field and a positive force in the community, earning him the distinction of being the team's Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee for the second year in a row. This summer, Arik donated $250,000 to Mercy Housing California, an affordable housing organization rooted in his hometown of Sacramento, gaining him recognition as the Week 4 NFLPA Community MVP. Arik's generosity has provided over 400 students with academic support, after-school programming, and career exploration opportunities, including college campus, visits through the Leataata Floyd Student and Family Community Center, a joint resource program offered by Mercy Housing and the Sacramento City Unified School District, which he has partnered with since its inception and his first year in the NFL.

One of Arik's primary focuses is providing underserved youth with equal opportunities for success. As the leader of the 49ers Player Social Justice Council, Arik mentored youth from 100 Black Men of the Bay Area, one of the team's Social Justice grantees, as part of their monthly 49ers Wisdom Session program. Arik led active dialogue around leadership, character development, and academic excellence with the students from Oakland. Arik has also continued to grow his Storytime withArik Armstead program to motivate students to read. Arik headlined the Read for Justice program, distributing books to over 2,000 San Francisco Unified School District students that emphasized the importance of diversity and inclusion and supported a black-owned business and author of color. This past November, Arik added another dimension to his literacy program by providing free reading glasses to hundreds of Bay Area student participants. Arik also furthered his support of education initiatives at a local Title 1 school by providing $2,500 towards science kits and academic supplies.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past

In 2016, Arik launched a free annual youth football camp that more than 1,000 underserved students have participated in over the last five years, each receiving a backpack, apparel, and a warm meal. Over the same period, Arik has visited UC Davis Hospital each year, donating and delivering over $20,000 in gifts to pediatric patients. As part of his long-term commitment to Leataata Floyd Elementary, Arik joined and sponsored eight creative writing workshop field trips for over 200 students in 2018 to improve their artistic writing and communication skill sets. He hosted a free Health Clinic on their campus that same year, serving over 400 Sacramento residents with general wellness checks, behavioral health services, dental and vision exams, and more. To further address the deep gaps in education equality, Arik launched the Armstead Academic Project in 2019. When schools turned virtual in 2020, Arik launched Storytime with Arik Armstead. Since May 2020, he has impacted over 2,600 youth from first to fifth grade, read live to 25 separate virtual classrooms in 21 school districts from Sacramento to Qatar, and covered equality, black history, and sustainability. Building upon his COVID-19 relief efforts, Arik launched the #EAT91SIX campaign to support small businesses in his hometown of Sacramento. He donated over 200 meals to UC Davis healthcare workers and promoted mental health resources and DVSA support. When the pandemic created further disparities and increased the digital divide, Arik donated $50,000 and personally delivered 350 Chromebooks, one-year of pre-paid internet service, and education kits to multi-student families. Arik ended the year spreading holiday cheer by purchasing and distributing gifts for 180 residents at an affordable housing community.

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

Understanding that education and social justice work hand in hand, Arik actively sheds light on important issues in our country through various channels. Using his voice, Arik implores members of the community to take action. He kicked off the 7th Annual Boys and Men of Color Summit and spoke to 300 male students engaged in creating systemic change. To foster police and community relations, Arik participated in a STEAM education project alongside Oakland youth and Bay Area police officers. He's also joined 15 high-achieving young women of color from Brown Girls Dream for a panel discussion alongside broadcaster Cari Champion.

Arik is one of the league's biggest Inspire Change advocates. At the start of each of his media availability sessions during the 2020 season, Arik addressed significant societal issues, including funding for school districts of color, racism and implicit bias, and voting. He helped launch Subject to Change, a video series featuring discussions on Race and Police Brutality moderated by NFL Networks' Steve Wyche and joined Senator Cory Booker to discuss the importance of civic engagement. He's turned words into action as the active leader of the 49ers Players Social Justice Council in both 2020 and 2021 and directed $1 million of team funding towards nonprofits following the tragic murder of George Floyd. Arik has also taken his efforts to the workplace and joined the hiring platform, Humanly as an advisor to increase diversity and remove hiring bias.

In recognition of Arik's commitment to promoting unity both in the community and in the locker room, he was voted the 49ers 2020 Perry/Yonamine Unity Award winner by his teammates. While he has made financial contributions towards numerous causes and donated his time to better his community, the highlight of Arik's legacy will be the creation of the Armstead Academic Center to empower youth to graduate high school and become responsible citizens. To date, he has contributed $300,000 in his 5-year, $2 million commitment towards this vision. "It's the if-not-me-then-who approach," Arik said. "If people in positions of power or who have platforms and resources don't speak up for others and don't speak up for your community, then who will do it? That's why I take that responsibility to be a leader in my community and to speak up for those who don't have a voice and to provide access and resources and leverage my platform to pour resources back into my community