Davin Joseph's Pro Bowl invitation, which arrived on Tuesday, is a clear indication of how well the sixth-year guard has performed on the football field this season. Apparently, he has excelled off the field, as well.
That became apparent on Thursday when Joseph received his second major award in one week: He has been named the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 2011 Man of the Year.
The team-by-team Man of the Year awards are part of the overall Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year selection process. Both the team awards and the overall league honor go to players who have made a significant impact that season both on the football field and in the community. There is no better example of that dual commitment in the Buccaneers' locker room this year than Davin Joseph.
As the Buccaneers' Man of the Year choice, Joseph automatically becomes one of the 32 nominees for the Walter Payton Award. He also has the opportunity to direct a $1,000 donation in his name to the charity of his choice.
If Joseph was surprised to get the word about the Pro Bowl in a phone call from Head Coach Raheem Morris on Tuesday evening, the news on Thursday was even more unexpected.
"This one I definitely did not see coming at all, because I really see it as my duty as a player [to help in the community]," he said. "I think it's our responsibility to get out into the community and help. We're blessed as individuals financially but at times there's a lot of focus on the negativity that goes along with the stereotype of football. So we need to do some positive things, not just for us but for the future of the game. It's my duty, and I take pride in it. It's been a good little ride."
In 2011, Joseph established the Davin Joseph Events for Cause Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to serving urban areas in two cities close to his heart: Tampa and his hometown of Hallandale Beach, FL. His foundation is devoted to enhancing athletic and performing arts programs in public schools by instituting safe, structured after-school programs, improving athletic facilities and encouraging greater community involvement. In 2011, Joseph adopted the Blake High School football team in Tampa, for which he sponsored pre-game meals, attended Friday night games, and donated $10,000 to the athletic program.
"It's been a good year so far," said Joseph with his trademark wide smile. "I'm just trying to help however I can. I'm honored to have this award."
Joseph has been making an impact in the community since shortly after he arrived in Tampa as a first-round draft pick in 2006. In 2007, he helped develop "Turkey Time with the O-Line," an annual charitable initiative sponsored by the team's offensive line which has distributed nearly 3,000 Thanksgiving meals to needy families in Tampa Bay over the past five years. In 2010, along with teammate Jeremy Trueblood, Joseph sponsored and participated in a weekly $1,000 surprise shopping spree with different underprivileged families throughout the season. During the 2010 holidays, he also spearheaded an effort to host a surprise holiday outing and gift event for 26 single mothers and their families who were victims of domestic abuse. Since 2007, the veteran offensive lineman has provided cancer patients, underprivileged students, and deserving charities with tickets and food vouchers to Buccaneers home games through Davin's Dream Team, his gameday ticket program. And for the past three years, Joseph has served as the Buccaneers' spokesman for the NFL/United Way's LIVE: UNITED campaign, promoting volunteerism and service throughout the Tampa Bay community.
In addition to developing his own community initiatives and foundation efforts, Joseph has participated in a variety of philanthropic efforts in Florida. He often visits local schools, promoting the NFL's Play 60 initiative and encouraging physical activity and healthy living. He has supported the Mayor's Beautification Program in Tampa, having painted objects to be auctioned to charities that improve local beautification efforts. Joseph has also served as a celebrity coach at the Pop Warner Adrenalyn Bowl, coaching youth during the Pop Warner championship football game in February 2010.
Linebacker Adam Hayward, the Buccaneers' 2010 Man of the Year, believes his successor was well-chosen.
"It's a great choice," said Hayward. "Davin does a lot of stuff but he's very quiet so a lot of it goes unnoticed. I'm glad he got that award this year. It's something to be proud of. It's awesome to know that the things you do in the community are noticed. People can look around see that we have a positive impact."
Of course, Joseph is also one of the Buccaneers' most consistently outstanding players, and that is a major part of the Man of the Year equation. This year, he has started all 15 games at his primary right guard position, anchoring an offensive line that has been a bright spot for the team all season. Earlier this season, Joseph was named to the 2011 Pro Football Weekly Midseason All-Pro Team. As mentioned, he also became just the fifth Tampa Bay offensive player and second offensive lineman to earn multiple Pro Bowl selections as a Buccaneer with his selection earlier this week. Joseph's 2012 Pro Bowl nod is credit to his steadfast play on the Buccaneers offensive line, which has allowed the ninth-fewest sacks in the NFL, as well as the ninth-fewest sacks per pass play. The unit also helped Tampa Bay average 4.3 yards per rushing attempt, which ranks 13th in the NFL.
The National Football League has awarded the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award since 1970 to recognize a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. Each NFL team selects a local Man of the Year finalist to be eligible to receive the national award. Three finalists will be selected, each of whom will receive a $5,000 donation to the 501(c)3 organization of his choice. A blue ribbon panel will select the Walter Payton Man of the Year winner from the three finalists. The national winner, who will be announced at the Super Bowl Awards Honor Show on Feb. 5, 2012, will also receive a $20,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
Derrick Brooks is the lone Buccaneer to win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, sharing it with the Chicago Bears' Jim Flanigan in 2000. Here are the Bucs' Man of the Year Award winners dating back to that 2000 season:
G Davin Joseph
LB Adam Hayward
RB Clifton Smith
QB Jeff Garcia
K Matt Bryant
CB Ronde Barber
LB Ryan Nece
LB Shelton Quarles
S John Lynch
S John Lynch
S John Lynch
LB Derrick Brooks