List of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Winners

    To win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the greatest honor. The list celebrates the impact of NFL players within the community.

    To win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is one of the greatest honors for an NFL player and is awarded to the player who has had the most positive community influence.

    The winner is announced at the NFL Honors ceremony before the Super Bowl, and the winner is celebrated with a trophy and wears a badge for the rest of their playing career.

    Full List of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Winners

    The NFL states that the award “recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field” and “[represents] the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact.”

    Each NFL team nominates one of their players for the award each year, with one of the 32 nominees receiving the NFL’s most eminent tribute.

    MORE: List of NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award Winners

    The award has been voted on since its inception in 1970, with the winner getting to nominate £250,000 to charity, and every nominee getting a $55,000 donation in 2024.

    Technically, the first winner of the award was Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas in 1970. However, the NFL had an accolade named the Gladiator Award in 1969, which was the predecessor to the Man of the Year Award and was won by Green Bay Packers quarterback Bart Starr.

    The Gladiator is also the trophy that is awarded to each winner.

    From 1970, the award was just named NFL Man of the Year. Then, in 1999, it was changed to include Walter Payton, who had recently died. Payton won the award in 1977, and the renaming of the award was to honor the former Chicago Bears RB’s legacy.

    The complete list of Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winners is:

    • 1969 – Bart Starr, QB, Green Bay Packers
    • 1970 – Johnny Unitas, QB, Baltimore Colts
    • 1971 – John Hadl, QB, San Diego Chargers
    • 1972 – Willie Lanier, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 1973 – Len Dawson, QB, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 1974 – George Blanda, QB, Oakland Raiders
    • 1975 – Ken Anderson, QB, Cincinnati Bengals
    • 1976 – Franco Harris, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 1977 – Walter Payton, RB, Chicago Bears
    • 1978 – Roger Staubach, QB, Dallas Cowboys
    • 1979 – Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 1980 – Harold Carmichael, WR, Philadelphia Eagles
    • 1981 – Lynn Swann, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 1982 – Joe Theismann, QB, Washington Redskins
    • 1983 – Rolf Benirschke, K, San Diego Chargers
    • 1984 – Marty Lyons, DT, New York Jets
    • 1985 – Dwight Stephenson, OL, Miami Dolphins
    • 1986 – Reggie Williams, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
    • 1987 – Dave Duerson, S, Chicago Bears
    • 1988 – Steve Largent, WR, Seattle Seahawks
    • 1989 – Warren Moon, QB, Houston Oilers
    • 1990 – Mike Singletary, LB, Chicago Bears
    • 1991 – Anthony Muñoz, OL, Cincinnati Bengals
    • 1992 – John Elway, QB, Denver Broncos
    • 1993 – Derrick Thomas, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 1994 – Junior Seau, LB, San Diego Chargers
    • 1995 – Boomer Esiason, QB, New York Jets
    • 1996 – Darrell Green, CB, Washington Redskins
    • 1997 – Troy Aikman, QB, Dallas Cowboys
    • 1998 – Dan Marino, QB, Miami Dolphins
    • 1999 – Cris Carter, WR, Minnesota Vikings
    • 2000 – Derrick Brooks, LB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Jim Flanigan, DT, Chicago Bears
    • 2001 – Jerome Bettis, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
    • 2002 – Troy Vincent, CB, Philadelphia Eagles
    • 2003 – Will Shields, OL, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 2004 – Warrick Dunn, RB, Atlanta Falcons
    • 2005 – Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis Colts
    • 2006 – Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints, and LaDainian Tomlinson, RB, San Diego Chargers
    • 2007 – Jason Taylor, DE, Miami Dolphins
    • 2008 – Kurt Warner, QB, Arizona Cardinals
    • 2009 – Brian Waters, OL, Kansas City Chiefs
    • 2010 – Madieu Williams, S, Minnesota Vikings
    • 2011 – Matt Birk, OL, Baltimore Ravens
    • 2012 – Jason Witten, TE, Dallas Cowboys
    • 2013 – Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears
    • 2014 – Thomas Davis Sr., LB, Carolina Panthers
    • 2015 – Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
    • 2016 – Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals, and Eli Manning, QB, New York Giants
    • 2017 – J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
    • 2018 – Chris Long, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
    • 2019 – Calais Campbell, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars
    • 2020 – Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks
    • 2021 – Andrew Whitworth, OL, Los Angeles Rams
    • 2022 – Dak Prescott, QB, Dallas Cowboys
    • 2023 – Cameron Heyward, DE, Pittsburgh Steelers

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