Birk, Dawkins, Warner finalists for Walter Payton award

NEW YORK -- Brian Dawkins of Philadelphia and Kurt Warner of Arizona, who will face each other in Sunday's NFC championship game, are finalists for the NFL's Man of the Year award.

Matt Birk of Minnesota is also a finalist for the award, named for the late Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, which goes annually to the player who combines on-field excellence with off-the-field community service.

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the only league award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.

The winner will be announced before the Super Bowl on Feb. 1. Recent winners of the award include Jason Taylor of the Washington Redskins (2007), Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints and LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Chargers, co-winners in 2006 and Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts (2005).

The three finalists were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from the 32 team nominees for the award, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Pro Football Hall of Famer Anthony Munoz, Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King, football greats Frank Gifford and Jack Kemp, Connie Payton and 2007 winner Taylor.

Warner, who at 37 quarterbacked the Cardinals to their first championship game in 60 years, created a partnership with Habitat for Humanity to sponsor construction throughout the Midwest. He has raised over $450,000, including a $100,000 personal contribution, $100,000 from his foundation, and $100,000 each from the Cardinals and the NFL Disaster Relief Fund.

Dawkins, the Eagles' six-time Pro Bowl safety, was selected 2008 Father of the Year by the American Diabetes Association. He contributed $10,000 to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the names of his twin daughters, who faced complications from a premature birth. He also provides a local high school football player game tickets each week.

Birk has been the Vikings' man of the year seven straight times. He has established the HIKE Foundation -- for hope, inspiration and knowledge to help give educational opportunities and resources to youngsters in Minnesota's Twin Cities. For the last two years, he has donated part of his salary to help retired players in need.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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