Eli Manning, Boldin, Watson finalists for Man of Year award
NEW YORK (AP) New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin and New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson are the three finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour prime-time special airing nationally on CBS on Feb. 6, the night before the Super Bowl.
A $55,000 donation will be made in the winner's name to a charity of his choice, and the two runners-up will receive an $11,000 donation. The other 29 team finalists received a $5,000 donation.
The finalists were chosen by a panel of judges comprised of Commissioner Roger Goodell, former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, sports writer Peter King, Connie Payton - widow of Walter Payton - and former players Anthony Munoz and LaDainian Tomlinson and last year's winner, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.
Manning has served as the chair of the New York March for Babies for the past seven years, helping raise more than $25 million. Manning also spearheads ''Tackle Kids' Cancer,'' an initiative with Hackensack University Medical Center.
''As my kids get older, I want them to understand the importance of being a part of community, and helping out people that are less fortunate, and how many blessings they have,'' Manning said in a statement provided by the Giants. ''I want them to have that in their life and an understanding of how important it is to be help out other people and different causes.''
The Anquan Boldin Foundation was formed in 2004 to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged youth. In early 2015, Boldin and his wife Dionne announced a $1 million pledge to increase the impact of their foundation. Boldin also founded the Philanthropy Training Camp, which helps players learn from their peers about giving back and will hold a panel discussion in San Francisco during Super Bowl week.
''Because of our profession, we are given the perfect platform to help others,'' Boldin said in a statement provided by the 49ers. ''To me, that is not only a great opportunity, but also my responsibility and it is not something I take lightly. When my playing days have come to an end, I hope to be remembered more for the difference I made in the lives of others than for my accomplishments on the field.''
Watson has worked to combat domestic violence and was one of the first NFL players to join the ''No More'' campaign. One of his foundation's annual events is the ''Big BENefit,'' where 25 families from a local domestic violence shelter are treated to a shopping spree to buy gifts for their children and necessary household items. Watson was named one of CNN's Most Extraordinary People of the Year in 2014.
''So humbled to be named a finalist for Walter Payton Man of the Year,'' Watson wrote on Twitter. ''Congrats to all the nominees. There are so many great men in our league.''
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