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Jimmy Graham a Repeat Nominee

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award nominee for the Bears is Jimmy Graham, who also was nominated in 2020.

Jimmy Graham was named the Bears Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee for the second straight year.

Graham's work to benefit veterans and also his foundation's involvement in assisting youth who are homeless were part of the reason he became the fifth different Bears player to be nominated in successive years since the NFL Man of the Year Award was named for Payton, the legendary Bears running back, in 1999.

Each team nominates a player who embodies Payton's commitment to community through off-field philanthropic endeavors. The winner is announced Super Bowl week.

The Bears have had five players win the award since it began in 1970, tied with Kansas City for the most. This includes Payton himself in 1977, Dave Duerson in 1987, Mike Singletary in 1990, Jim Flanigan in 2000 and Charles Tillman in 2013.

"I mean truly special, I didn't know you could do that (nomination) twice," Graham said. "You know, extremely grateful from the organization, from ownership and obviously the Payton family. It's a special thing here and to be a part of that back to back and just hoping to win now, and pretty cool that all that's being done in the community by all the players is being recognized and being held up as an important part of the NFL."

Graham has spoken extensively about his appreciation for veterans in the past. Part of his involvement with them includes taking them up for rides in his role as a pilot. Graham spoke earlier this season of taking vets up who had flown in helicopters similar to one he flies during involvement in wars.

"You know I was a military kid and I know exactly what it feels like to move all the time and to have a lot of family members in the military and I think sometimes, you know, obviously after pulling out of some foreign land over the past year I think a lot of people sometimes put that kind of in the back of their mind, Graham said. "You know especially 20 years after 9/11 happened.

"But there's a lot of families that are effected daily not only by our current and past wars but even as far as Viet Nam and so you know I, on a daily basis in the offseason, look to give out those experiences and connect families. That's one of the cooler things I've been able to do. I have generations into these experiences and have a lot of these older men and women be able to share their experiences in war and their experiences in life with their own kids that have never heard these stories."

Here are the past Bears nominees since it was named for Payton in 1999.

1999 Jim Flanigan

2000 Jim Flanigan*

2001 Marcus Robinson

2002 Phillip Daniels

2003 Phillip Daniels

2004 John Tait

2005 Bobby Wade

2006 Roberto Garza

2007 Charles Tillman

2008 Charles Tillman

2009 Israel Idonije

2010 Israel Idonije

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2011 Charles Tillman

2012 Charles Tillman

2013 Charles Tillman*

2014 Jay Cutler

2015 Matt Forte

2016 Sam Acho

2017 Sam Acho

2018 Trey Burton

2019 Allen Robinson

2020 Jimmy Graham

2021 Jimmy Graham

*Award winner

Other Bears winners

1977 Walter Payton

1987 Dave Duerson

1990 Mike Singletary

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