The NFL today announced Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson among the 32 players who have been named their team's Man of the Year. From granting scholarships to forming foundations promoting literacy, to getting kids active, these players represent the best of the NFL's commitment to philanthropy and community impact and are now eligible to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, presented by Nationwide.
Three of these nominees will be selected as finalists for the award, named for the legendary Bears running back who passed away in 1999. Finalists will be announced in January 2015. The winner will be announced in Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLIX, during the 4th Annual NFL Honors awards show, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on Saturday, January 31, from 9-11 p.m. ET on NBC. Each of the 32 team nominees receive a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to the charity of their choice. The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation, and the winner will receive an additional $20,000 donation in his name.
"We admire and support the important work that these players and so many other NFL players are doing to serve their communities," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "The NFL is filled with outstanding young men who help schools, shelters, and countless other organizations and good causes. We thank our players for recognizing the positive impact they can have in the lives of their fellow citizens and seizing that opportunity to make difference."
Since joining the Buccaneers in 2012, Jackson has established himself as a leader in Tampa Bay. Voted a team captain all three years, the veteran receiver has totaled 3,539 receiving yards for the Buccaneers, the seventh-most in the league during that span. A three-time Pro Bowler, he has quickly ascended the franchise receiving ranks, and continues to reset the bar not only in Tampa, but throughout the NFL. This is the second consecutive year that Jackson has earned this recognition from the Buccaneers, in honor of his military appreciation efforts and charitable support of military families.
Born in Fort Polk, Louisiana, to parents with a combined 25 years of active-duty service in the U.S. Army, the self-proclaimed "military brat" experienced firsthand what it means to grow up in a military family. His adolescence included stints in Arizona, Colorado, and even Gräfenberg, Germany. Following seven noteworthy years with the San Diego Chargers, Jackson's move to Tampa proved to be the perfect time and environment to focus his passion for supporting those whose path he's walked. It was no mistake that on Veterans' Day of 2012, the wide receiver officially launched the Jackson In Action 83 Foundation through an editorial published in the Tampa Tribune and the Tampa Bay Times, where he urged readers to remember and salute those families who have sacrificed for the freedom of the greater good.
Though not one for self-promotion, the admittedly private Jackson – with guidance and support from his wife, Lindsey – took pen to paper over the next year and a half for a unique and impactful project that would not only serve as an outlet for the challenges he faced as a military child, but hopefully support the lives of a younger generation enduring the same experiences. Danny Dogtags: Dealing with Deployment, officially hit bookshelves in 2014 to rave reviews from children and families in Tampa Bay and beyond, and will hopefully serve as the first in a series of stories written by Jackson about the main character, Danny Dogtags, and lessons on embracing the military lifestyle.
If Jackson's military appreciation efforts began and ended with writing a children's book, many would still laud his charitable nature. Yet on October 19, Jackson hosted the inaugural Military Moms Baby Shower for 40 expecting or recently delivered military moms from MacDill Air Force Base, Coast Guard Air Station Clearwater, and the Air National Guard. Jackson and his wife surprised each woman with $1,000 in merchandise to help them care for their infant, as well as raffled off thousands of dollars in additional gifts and prizes. The event led up to the foundation's first Military Family Home Makeover this November, where the home of Staff Sergeant Jessica Fleurimond in Tampa received a beautiful interior redesign in time for Veterans' Day.
Though Jackson has stayed busy off the field launching new charitable ventures, the programs haven't replaced previously-established initiatives. This past June, he hosted the second annual Youth in Action Camp for children from local military families; the Salute to Reading Program proved to be a tremendous success, inspiring local youths to achieve reading goals with the prize of Buccaneers facility tours and a pizza party hosted by Jackson; for the third year in a row, the "Jackson in Action" Front Row Fans section at Raymond James Stadium provides a special gameday experience for dozens of local military families; and Jackson continues to build on memorable experiences including a visit to Pearl Harbor to greet World War II survivors, a USO Tour to the Middle East, coordinating a surprise reunion for a local military family, and hosting events at MacDill Air Force Base with the support of USAA.
As announced in July, Nationwide is the presenting sponsor of the Man of the Year Award for the first time this year. 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.
"As a company whose core values include integrity, trust and community support, Nationwide is proud to be the sponsor of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award," said Matt Jauchius, Nationwide's chief marketing officer. "While only one of these men can win the award, the fact that they have been nominated makes them, and the communities they serve, winners. We congratulate this year's nominees and thank them for their leadership."
For more information on all 32 team nominees and the award, visit www.NFL.com/manoftheyear.
Below is a list of recent Buccaneers Man of the Year winners, dating back to 2000:
2014 WR Vincent Jackson
2013 WR Vincent Jackson
2012 G Davin Joseph
2011 G Davin Joseph
2010 LB Adam Hayward
2009 RB Clifton Smith
2008 QB Jeff Garcia
2007 K Matt Bryant
2006 CB Ronde Barber
2005 LB Ryan Nece
2004 LB Shelton Quarles
2003 S John Lynch
2002 S John Lynch
2001 S John Lynch
2000 LB Derrick Brooks (NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner)