Skip to main content

NFL Man of the Year Nominees 2022 | Colts |


Indianapolis Colts

Training Camp Blitz

Shaquille Leonard


Table inside Article
Position College Years in the NFL
Linebacker South Carolina State 5

Excellence on the Field:

In 2021, Shaquille Leonard became the only player in NFL history to have at least eight forced fumbles and four interceptions in a season. Shaquille is the only player in NFL history to accumulate 10 or more interceptions, 15 or more sacks and 15 or more forced fumbles over the first five years of his career – and he needed just four seasons to hit those marks. The three-time first-team AP All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl linebacker is one of the most prolific turnover-creators we've ever seen play football, and his relentless energy and thumping physicality have placed him among the best leaders and best players in the NFL since his debut in 2018. As the 2018 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, Shaquille has been voted a team captain by his teammates in each of the last four seasons, too. His presence on and off the field has unquestionably made the Colts a better defense, and a better team. "Shaq is unique in his energy that he brings, his playmaking ability that he brings," defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. "Everybody around him is elevated."

Dedication & Commitment to Community Efforts This Year:

Shaquille, through his Maniac Foundation, extensively supports the communities that shaped him: Lake View, S.C., South Carolina State University and Indianapolis. In his home town of Lake View, Shaquille donated $38,484 to renovate Hilltop Park and hosted a football camp for 200 kids at his childhood park. At Lake View High School, Shaquille donated $56,500 to improve the football field. He also put $3,511 toward Coats for Kids and provided $3,500 in Thanksgiving turkeys in Lake View, donated $1,300 to the Dillon County (S.C.) Sheriff's Office and contributed $450 to Lake View High School bus transportation. He continued his powerful advocacy for HBCUs when he covered an all-expenses paid trip for South Carolina State's marching band to perform at halftime of the Colts' home opener, and donated $20,000 to the program. "He's very well known around here not just for the things that he did on the field but also for the things that he's currently doing off the field," Patrick Moore, the director of South Carolina State's marching band, said. "And I believe a lot of people are aspiring to, essentially, be just like him." Through his Maniac Foundation, Shaquille also offers grants up to $5,300 for HBCU upperclassmen. Following the horrific tragedy Uvalde, Texas in June, Shaquille donated $15,000 to Soulshine, which designed custom caskets for the shooting's victims. Shaquille supports education and youth football around Indianapolis. He contributed $15,053.53 to the Indianapolis Public Schools Foundation and donated $750 in holiday gifts for Indianapolis Public Schools. He contributed $5,353.53 to Arlington Woods Elementary Sankofa School of Success in Indianapolis, where he visits regularly to talk with students. Leonard also put $5,053.53 toward the Indy Steelers Youth Football program, and through a partnership with USA Football awarded $10,000 in grants to youth football programs in the Indianapolis area. Shaquille is one of the leading voices in the Colts and Irsay family's "Kicking The Stigma" mental health initiative. He launched a mental health hotline through the Maniac Foundation in April providing a monthly motivational message from Shaquille and easily-accessible resources to those facing mental health challenges. Shaquille also participated in Kicking the Stigma's latest PSA to spotlight his mental health journey. "To be that vulnerable and to really take a stand on mental health and to share his story, it's very powerful, especially for people who are going through things," defensive tackle DeForest Buckner said.

Dedication & Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past:

Shaquille and his wife, Kayla, launched the Maniac Foundation in 2020, which is dedicated to transforming communities – like Lake View, S.C., South Carolina State University and Indianapolis – through education, wellness programs, serving families in need and other charitable causes. Shaquille's deep knowledge of these communities, and what people who live in those communities need, has allowed him to focus the Maniac Foundation's reach to make the greatest impact possible. In its first year, the Maniac Foundation provided over $100,000 in grants, educational materials and resources provided to its mission. And the inaugural event for the Maniac Foundation, held on Nov. 8, 2021 at the Lucas Estate in Carmel, Ind., raised over $680,000, which will go directly to programs and initiatives that support the Maniac Foundation's mission statement. He purchased holiday gifts for deserving children in the Indianapolis area through his "Shop With A Jock" event in December 2021, and was named the NFLPA Community MVP for Week 12 for distributing 70 turkey meal kits to families Indianapolis and 100 more holiday dinners to households in Lake View. Shaquille has held an annual free youth football camp and back to school giveaway in Lake View every year since 2019, and in 2021 also held a bike giveaway and a Christmas toy and coat giveaway in Lake View. "I'm just trying to touch as many families as I possibly can, especially in neighborhoods that need it the most," Shaquille said. "I understand, especially for the inner city here in Indianapolis, they just need resources. Kids need food, kids need people to be behind them at all times and that's what my job is." Shaquille has been a regular participant in the Colts' Community Tuesdays, including in 2020, when he helped distribute meals to Indianapolis residents in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. He participated in Kicking the Stigma's first fundraiser, a virtual event in May 2020 that raised $4.5 million to go toward mental health initiatives. "His willingness to contribute off the field is probably what makes me really proud," general manager Chris Ballard said. "Because with all our players, we want them to give and to serve others. He takes it and runs with it and has a very giving heart and wants to create a difference that lasts long-term. His legacy playing will be his legacy playing, but his legacy of giving and serving others is something that will last forever."

Positive Character & a Lifestyle of Giving Back:

At an event earlier this year, Buckner was standing with Shaquille when a worker approached the All-Pro Colts linebacker, who's been a leading voice in the mental health space over the last few years. "He came up to Shaq and thanked him for sharing his story, because it helped him through his phase of depression that he was going through," Buckner recalled. "Hearing Shaq's story really changed his life." For as strong of a leader as Shaquille is on the field and in the locker room for the Colts, he pours the same energy into being a beacon for his team and community off the field. Shaquille's teammates see the work he does, and the impact he has, in the communities he supports and have a shining example to follow in their own charitable and community-oriented initiatives. "Shaq sets the standard when it comes to using your platform and giving back to the max," guard Quenton Nelson said. "He gives everything he has to the game, No. 1, and then to be able to give that same energy, enthusiasm, emotion into giving back to the community, it's unbelievable. … He's really been an inspiration to all his teammates on how to give back." Whether it's in Lake View, South Carolina, or at South Carolina State, or around the Indianapolis area, Shaquille is a pillar in those communities and a model for using one's platform to not only give back, to but enrich the lives of those of those he reaches. "I just try to be a better man than I am a football player," Shaquille said. "Money comes and goes, but people will never forget how you great them. That's what I always want to be remembered as – as a great human being, not just as a great football player." The Indianapolis Colts are proud to select Shaquille Leonard as their Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.