BENJAMIN WATSON is the Baltimore Ravens’ nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD, it was announced Thursday. Representing the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact, Watson was selected as the Ravens’ Man of the Year and is now eligible to win the national award. Considered one of the League’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.
Three of the nominees will be selected as finalists for the national award, renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back WALTER PAYTON. Finalists will be announced in January 2018. The winner will be announced in Minneapolis at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII, from 8-10 p.m. (ET and PT) on NBC.
“We are proud to recognize Benjamin Watson for the work he does to educate, empower and enrich the lives of those in need,” Ravens president DICK CASS stated. “He is a recognized leader in every community he serves and is a shining example of compassion and inspiration. He has helped people not only in many NFL communities, but also in areas all over the world.”
ABOUT BENJAMIN WATSON
Coming off of a season-ending Achilles injury that sidelined him in 2016, Watson is back in full force on the field, all while he continues to help others off of it. A dedicated family man – he and his wife, Kirsten, have five children (Eden, Grace, Naomi, Isaiah and Judah) – Watson continues to assist countless people through his charitable arm, the One More Foundation. A vehicle to “carry the hope and love of Christ to those who need it most, while understanding that the best and most efficient way to reach people’s hearts is by first meeting their physical needs,” One More’s mission is to bless individuals wherever they are, whether supporting existing charities or initiating programs of its own.
Most recently, One More partnered with the International Justice Mission (IJM) to help fight sex trafficking. In partnership with IJM, the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization working to combat human trafficking, modern day slavery and other forms of violence against the poor, the Watsons joined the global fight to end the scourge of sex trafficking. This effort was highlighted in April during a three-day trip to Lebanon, where Benjamin witnessed firsthand the Middle East’s refugee crisis. Additionally, he and Kirsten traveled to the Dominican Republic in June to begin formulating plans that combat sex trafficking.
Watson also annually hosts the Big BENefit – an event that offers 25 underserved families an opportunity to provide holiday gifts for their children. Each parent is brought to a local Walmart and is surprised with dinner and a $300 gift card to shop with their favorite Raven. Additionally, Watson hosts an annual Turkey Drop by donating 50 turkeys to Adopt-A-Block, helping families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. Furthermore, in 2016, he donated 200 Chick-fil-A meals to first responders assisting with cleanup efforts following devastating floods in Ellicott City, Md.
Watson also started a campaign with Donors Choose, where One More matches all donations made. This year’s contributions go directly to benefit local schools in Baltimore, allowing teachers to purchase tools – books, art supplies, iPads, etc. – that enhance their children’s educational experience.
Named one of CNN’s Most Extraordinary People of the Year (2014), Watson regularly appears on FOX News and CNN to discuss issues such as race, persecution, ISIS, civil unrest and social responsibility. Benjamin has also authored two books: “The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life,” featuring advice and info on being a father, and “Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race – Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us,” a challenging look at race, bias and justice, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., several years ago.
ADDITIONAL WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR INFORMATION
Starting in Week 14, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy silhouette will appear in uniform elements to further recognize past award winners and current nominees. Watson will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Additionally, $500,000 will be donated in the name of the 2017 winner. $250,000 will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country. The two other finalists will each receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice and a $100,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All other 29 nominees will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to expand Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and United Way Worldwide.
The NFL announced last month a Super Bowl Ticket Giveaway, a new initiative this season to surprise fans across the country with an invitation to attend Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. As a Man of the Year nominee, Watson received two Super Bowl LII tickets to give away to his community hero, who will be announced in the coming weeks.