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NFL Man of the Year Nominees 2022 | Jets |


New York Jets

20221011-Jets Community Event-41 (1)

Solomon Thomas


Table inside Article
Position College Years in the NFL
Defensive End Stanford 6

Excellence on the Field:

Solomon is always the first man on the field, last one off. He exudes leadership in the locker room by engaging with people about their lives as players and their lives outside of the NFL. He mentors younger players and works closely with them to ensure their success. Ultimately, he sees everyone's success around him as his own and consistently demonstrates this in all aspects of life on and off the field. Regularly, team members approach him for support on personal issues and help to navigate finding a therapist for the first time. His reputation for his advocacy of mental wellness precedes him and it's something he supports in every interaction. Solomon is reliable and deeply committed to his craft. Throughout the offseason he works just as hard as during the season to always work to be better than the year before. His attitude in life is to grow, progress, and always be at his very best. Solomon is strong mentally and physically and this allows him to naturally step into a leadership position wherever he is. Solomon is a born leader and a natural community-minded man, always walking with others along the path to greatness and success.

Dedication & Commitment to Community Efforts This Year:

Although Solomon is new to New York, he jumped quickly into community-based work immediately and hit the ground running, thanks to support from the New York Jets. In partnership with the Super Football Conference, Solomon will be giving regular talks to student athletes about the critical importance of mental health and taking care of themselves. This is in alignment with his nonprofit The Defensive Line (TDL), whose mission is to end the epidemic of youth suicide, especially for young people of color by transforming the way we communicate and connect about mental health. TDL regularly provides suicide prevention workshops across the country, and was most recently highlighted at the Stanford Mental Health Awareness game. Solomon also sits on panels and webinars to discuss mental health, suicide prevention, and his life multiple times a month, usually for free to the benefit of the organizations he supports. This work with his nonprofit has also included a 988 campaign with Dak Prescott and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention this year, and an educational panel for all of Paramount Global in October. Over the summer, he also hosted his second annual Youth Football Camp for middle and high school footballers in his hometown to learn from elite coaches and players - a once in a lifetime experience for these young people. In partnership with the NY Jets, Solomon participated in a Crucial Catch event in September to visit families impacted by cancer. In early October, he flew out a family to a game whose mother had written to him about her son's struggles with suicidal thoughts and mental health so he could meet them. They got to spend time together pre-game and visit him on the field before enjoying the game. Solomon also visited the Children's Hospital for Pediatric Cancer in Morristown to brighten the days of a few sick kids and bring them hope, energy, and love. For the Holidays, Solomon will host a Turkey Giveaway sponsored by Walmart in Harlem and a Shop with a Jock with local kids, gifting them with a gift card and the opportunity to shop for themselves before Christmas. He will join the Jets for their Flag Football Event for 6th graders, leading them in a short meditation before playing - a way he loves to infuse mental wellbeing into his work. In November he will join Microsoft for the Character Playbook and Understanding Mental Wellness Event at MetLife Stadium to continue to spread his message of mental health advocacy.

Dedication & Commitment to Community Efforts in Years Past:

Solomon has demonstrated true dedication and passion for the wellbeing of all people since far before his NFL career, but has led a professional career of service, generosity, and advocacy since he was drafted in 2017. His sister Ella died by suicide in 2018 after his first year in the NFL, and has since dedicated his life to tell her story and his own so others can find themselves in his vulnerability and learn about ways to take care of themselves and others from him. In early 2018 Solomon became involved with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and raised around $250,000 with his walk teams for suicide research. That sparked a strong passion to speak out about suicide prevention and mental health and has been featured for talks and interviews on this work in ESPN, CNN, NFL360, Good Morning Football, Mental Health America, Born This Way Foundation, the Today Show, People Magizine, Players Tribune, Med Circle, Providence Health, The New York Times, The Jim Rome Show, and countless other national publications. Over time, this passion created a desire to build his own nonprofit with his family, and in 2021 launched his organization The Defensive Line (TDL), cofounded with his parents Martha and Chris Thomas. He regularly travels to attend TDL events and speaks to groups of young athletes, coaches, or teachers about the importance of taking care of each other to benefit TDL. Solomon has also partnered with organizations that promote equity like My Brother's Keeper, including attending events and speaking on panels. He has made extraordinary efforts to speak on educational webinars and panels about mental health awareness and suicide prevention for athletes and communities of color. Recently he spoke at ESPN's Black Sports Business Symposium in Atlanta. Solomon consistently participates in speaking engagements like these multiple times a month for the last several years, and mostly does them for free to the benefit of the organization. Solomon has also hosted events in years past like the ones he will in the years ahead. Last Christmas, he hosted a Shop With a Jock event in Las Vegas for 50 kids in partnership with the City of Las Vegas. He also hosted a Youth Football Camp in 2021 like the one he hosted this year, and plans to continue this for many years forward.

Positive Character & a Lifestyle of Giving Back:

As a Co-Founder of a nonprofit, Solomon has not only committed financially to the causes he believes in, he actively contributes his time, energy, and mind to the growth and success of his organization. His public speaking always centers around the hopefulness he carries and the belief he has that everyone has extraordinary value and deserves to live healthy lives. His message is positive and uplifting, and he shares it in public as much as he does privately with those around him. He doesn't push, but he offers insight and experience, sharing a kind of wisdom that people crave and thrive on. Solomon leads by action. He leads through showing people the kind of person he is, not telling them. Solomon shows up in every way for people in his life, for men on his team, for people in the front office, for his friends, his family, and for strangers. He leads by creating a life of giving back, by sharing his time to the public and advocating for the things he believes in, and by unsparingly sharing the bounty of what he works extraordinarily hard for. He will always take his time with others. He will always offer his time to others. He will do everything in his power to make people around him know they care - something he has shared is a personal mission to do in honor of his sister, who did this so effortlessly and with so much love. Solomon has consistently demonstrated a generous and quiet giving mentality, donating to many organizations over the years, including: The Golden Heart Foundation, Boys and Girls Club of Tracy Kipp Minnesota, Champion Charities Foundation, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hui Aloha Kiholo, Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition, 22 And You Foundation, My Brother's Keeper, Blue Dragon, Professional Athletes Foundation, The 49ers Fund, and many others. When a member of the 49ers staff lost everything in the Paradise Fires, Solomon supported them through the Camp Fire Relief Fund. Solomon builds giving and generosity into his lifestyle and has certainly demonstrated it in ways that most people will never know. His impact far exceeds what any of us will know, but everyone who has met him has been touched by his positivity, kindness, and generosity of self. The New York Jets are proud to select Solomon Thomas as their 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.