NFL Man Of The Year Nominees |


Anthony Barr


Table inside Article
Position College Years in the NFL
Linebacker UCLA 7

Demonstrates Excellence on The Field

A four-time Pro Bowler, Anthony Barr has delivered on the expectations bestowed on a first-round draft pick. Anthony has helped Minnesota make the playoffs in 2015, 2017, and 2019 and win the NFC North twice.

He has been a key to Minnesota consistently being among the NFL's top defenses since 2014, peaking in 2017 when the Vikings ranked No. 1 in points allowed and yards allowed on the way to a 13-3 mark, the second-most wins in franchise history. The lone exception for Minnesota being near the top or leading the NFL in defense was 2020, when Anthony suffered a season-ending torn pectoral injury in Week 2.

Anthony set about a tremendous rehab effort that challenged his physical and mental well-being. As he was on the way to being fully mended, he suffered a knee injury in August that kept him from playing in the Vikings first four games of 2021. Anthony continued to grind and helped Minnesota win in his first two games back.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts this Year

Anthony knows the walk because he and his family lived it.

Anthony grew up in a single-parent home, watching and realizing the challenges and sacrifices that single parents encounter. He realizes how prone single parents are to setbacks that could derail dreams of completing a college education.For these reasons, Anthony has committed to tackling poverty two generations at a time through his Raise the Barr foundation.

Going through such a grueling rehab process could cause some to pull back from community efforts, but Anthony reinforced his commitments. Raise the Barr made adjustments to its fundraising efforts to account for restrictions brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. The commitment remained strong because needs continued to intensify. In 2021, Raise the Barr was able to survey its scholarship recipients to expedite assistance with the most pressing needs of supporting mental health, providing educational resources, and offsetting gaps in employment.

In March 2020 and January 2021, Raise the Barr distributed $500 emergency grants to current and former scholars. The relief occurred at a critical time and prevented at least one eviction. In September 2021, Raise the Barr opened a new computer lab and print center specifically for student parents at the University of Minnesota.

Demonstrates Dedication and Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past

Anthony built relationships with Jeremiah Program, which provides housing and other resources for single parents, early in his career on the way to establishing Raise the Barr in 2016.

As the foundation has grown, he has enabled multigenerational economic ability through increased access to college degrees. Raise the Barr also established a relationship with the University of Minnesota's Student Parent Help Center, one of America's most respected on-campus resources. Raise the Barr elevated the Student Parent Help Center's work by funding critical research projects and bridging relationships with groups like The Aspen Institute. The University of Minnesota and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education agreed to be founding partners of Raise the Barr's Parenting Student Alliance.

Raise the Barr has awarded 54 scholarships, including six renewals, with an average award of $3,500 for students in California and Minnesota. The distribution of more than $375,000 has reduced the need for taking out loans that will add debt and create another barrier to economic mobility. Ninety-six percent of the scholarship recipients have graduated or remain in school. The best part for Anthony has been building relationships with the families and seeing them advance their goals. He has entertained youth with an animated reading of The Pout-Pout Fish and willed his 6-foot-5, 257-pound frame to crawl through a play tunnel at Jeremiah Program. Formidable on the field, Anthony is relatable and approachable to the children and their parents.

"I've watched some kids grow up from when they were infants, and now they're 4, 5 and six years old," Anthony said. "Seeing the moms and how they've been able to establish themselves in the community as students and professionals and take control of their own lives, just to be part of that has been really cool. It's really about empowering people and giving people opportunities to succeed. That's what we try to do at Raise the Barr."

The best part for our society is that bright people have been better enabled to make a brighter future for their children and our world. Scholarship recipients include one who is studying hydrology for cleaner water, one who is serving the homeless population, and one who will support special needs students.

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

It's one thing to invest in aspiring students, but Anthony also makes time for those who have made missteps in their youth. He has made countless visits (in-person and virtual) to the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center to let those young people know that he believes in their futures, too.

After the murder of George Floyd sent the Twin Cities and much of the world into shock, Anthony flew to Minnesota to meet with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to discuss potential long-term solutions to improve relationships with MPD and persons of color and prevent future tragedies. This is another example of his strength and wisdom during an incredibly difficult time.

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