Tempe, AZ – The Arizona Cardinals Football Club today announced that safety ANTOINE BETHEA has been named the “Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.” Bethea was also selected as the Indianapolis Colts “Man of the Year” in 2013.
The award is in recognition of outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. Bethea will receive a $50,000 donation to the charity of his choice and an additional $50,000 donation in his name to expand the United Way Character Playbook program in Arizona. As a nominee, Bethea will also receive two Super Bowl LIII tickets to give to community recipients of his choice.
Bethea is one of 32 NFL “Man of the Year” recipients to qualify for the league’s national 2018 “Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” award. New this year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIII. The 2018 Walter Payton NFL “Man of the Year” will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 2, the eve of Super Bowl LIII, on CBS. The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice and a $250,000 donation in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country.
Bethea and all other “Man of the Year” nominees will wear a helmet decal beginning this weekend through the end of the season to recognize their accomplishments on and off the field. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the other four current players (Drew Brees, Thomas Davis, Eli Manning and J.J. Watt) who have previously been named the national “Man of the Year” will continue wear a jersey patch to recognize their outstanding contributions to the game and community.
Two of Bethea’s off-the-field passions, education and community service, intersected in 2010 with the creation of his “Safe Coverage Foundation” which is committed to providing access and resources for students to achieve their dreams of a higher education. Every year since 2010, Bethea has hosted college visits for up to 50 students from his hometown of Newport News, VA with the goal of building a connection between inner-city high school students and universities by exposing teenagers to campus life and meetings with college faculty. He also helps students achieve higher education through his scholarship program.
Through his foundation, Bethea established the “Safe Coverage Technology Program” which provides laptops and iPads to high school seniors attending two-year, four-year or certification programs. In 2016, Bethea added another branch to his foundation called the “757 Shutdown Academy,” a youth sports organization in Newport News that supports approximately 220 student-athletes ages 5-14 who compete on five football teams and three cheerleading squads.
Bethea has continued his strong philanthropic efforts in the Arizona community since joining the Cardinals in 2017. In September, he joined team president Michael Bidwill and teammates Tre Boston and Corey Peters for a meeting with Arizona Governor Doug Ducey to discuss criminal justice reform and efforts to reduce the state’s recidivism rate. In October, Bethea, Peters, Bidwill and Ducey also attended a job fair at the Lewis State Prison Complex’s Eagle Point Second Chance Center where they heard from current and former inmates as well as employers about their experience with the Second Chance Centers.
In addition to his foundation work, Bethea regularly visits Valley elementary schools to promote literacy by reading to children through the Cardinals Milk and Cookies program, and he helped deliver personalized Cardinals teddy bears to children in the pediatric units at Phoenix Children’s Hospital last year as part of the Cardinals “Teddy Bear Express.”
He also helps spread cheer during the holiday season by hosting a shopping spree for 10 local families every year.
Bethea recently launched a collection of AB41 merchandise and pledged 100 percent of the profits to benefit the fight against breast cancer. He also encourages fans to give back through his annual AB41 Training Camp Challenge, which requires participants to share photos of them donating or volunteering in the community.
Bethea co-authored a motivational autobiography titled “Bet on Yourself: Inside the Mind of the Ultimate Underdog.” Scheduled for release on December 10 and available for pre-order at antoinebethea.com, the book details his journey of overcoming to achieve long-term success in the NFL.