RENTON, Wash. – The Seattle Seahawks today announced defensive end Michael Bennett as the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Representing the best of the NFL's commitment to philanthropy and community impact, Bennett was selected as the Seahawks Man of the Year and is now eligible to win the national award. Considered one of the League's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.
Bennett, a two-time Pro Bowler and member of the Super Bowl XLVIII championship team, has made a positive impact both on and off the field, expressing his desires to leave a legacy beyond being an athlete.
"Your longevity in sports is so short, but your legacy is forever," Bennett said. "Your legacy has to be what you do in the community, how much you give back and how you use your platform. I want to empower young athletes to use their platform to give back."
Bennett's foundation, The Bennett Foundation, has worked to fight obesity through OCEAN Programing (fighting Obesity through Community, Education, Activity and Nutrition). Bennett has also routinely held free camps and health clinics in Seattle, his hometown of Houston, his offseason home of Honolulu, and this year in South Dakota on the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe.
Bennett also pledged his 2017 endorsement money to, as he wrote on Instagram, "help rebuild minority communities through STEAM programs (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), as well as initiatives that directly affect women of color, in hopes of creating more opportunities for our youth to build a brighter future."
His foundation is also partnering with the Africa-led global movement iamtheCODE to provide 100 marginalized girls in Africa entrance into STEAMED programs (science, technology, engineering, arts, mathematics, entrepreneurship and design), as well as with multiple local organizations to start a gardening program for youth in juvenile detention. Bennett and his brother, Martellus Bennett, received the Shine A Light Awards at the BET Awards for the work they have done to uplift and inspire youth in minority communities.
Bennett regularly visits the King County Juvenile Youth Services Center on Fridays before home games, and
has been generous with his time for teammate causes, not just locally, but also traveling as far as Haiti to support fellow Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril, and Norfolk, Virginia to support safety Kam Chancellor.
"We're thrilled that Seahawks players and personnel have nominated Michael Bennett for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award," said Jon Fine, CEO of United Way of King County. "Michael is passionate and engaged in our community, advocating for some of the most vulnerable people who don't have a voice or platform."
Starting in Week 14, Bennett will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Nominees will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to expand Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and United Way Worldwide.
Three of the NFL nominees will be selected as finalists for the national award, renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Finalists will be announced January 21, 2018 at halftime of the AFC Championship Game. The winner will be announced in Minneapolis at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII, from 8-10 PM (ET and PT) on NBC. Five hundred thousand dollars will be donated in the name of the 2017 winner. $250,000 will be donated to the winner's charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country. The two other finalists will each receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice and a $100,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook.
To learn more about Bennett's nomination, visit NFL.com/manoftheyear.
Seahawks Man of the Year Selections