Upon the eve of the Super Bowl, the annual NFL Honors will take center stage, celebrating the best of the best on the gridiron.
As is customary, one of the final accolades of the night will be one of the most prestigious as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is announced and bestowed upon a player who has shown exceptional character and work off the football field as well as on.
On Thursday, the NFL released all 32 nominees (one from each team) for the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, with the winner being announced at NFL Honors, which will air on FOX on Feb. 1.
"Every day, in cities and towns across America, NFL players give of themselves to make our communities better," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a press release. "The 32 nominees for this year's award are the best of the best and truly embody the spirit of Walter and his legacy of leaving the world better than he found it."
It's an award that was first established in 1970, but in 1999 after his passing was renamed in the honor of the great Payton, known as "Sweetness" and as much for his phenomenal rushing on the gridiron as for his humanitarian ways away from it.
"I am incredibly thankful that football has provided me with a platform to give back," 2018 Walter Payton NFL Man of The Year Award-winner Chris Long said upon receiving the accolade, "and I am proud that so many of my colleagues have decided to use this stage to create positive and impactful change in our local communities and around the world."
Legendary Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas was the first NFL Man of the Year in 1970 and other legends such as Roger Staubach, Joe Greene and Payton (in 1977) himself won it through the years. Hall of Fame wide receiver Cris Carter took home the honor in 1999 when it was first bestowed with Payton's name. There are currently six active layers who have won the award -- Drew Brees, Jason Witten, Thomas Davis, Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and J.J. Watt.
Every nominee will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
On Feb. 1, another in a long line of distinguished honorees will take his place as the Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Below is a list of the 2019 nominees: