Earlier this fall, Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett reached out to former teammate Bobby Wagner to see if he wanted to help with something the two had been involved with in past years.
Wagner being Wagner, he of course said yes, so those two Seahawks greats reached out to the Renton School District to arrange payment that would cover the unpaid lunch bills for families that had fallen behind. They did so with no fanfare, no social media posts or heads up given to local media, there was no formal presentation with a big novelty check; it was just two young men who saw a need and stepped up to help.
Lockett has done things in the community, both in the Seattle area and back in his hometown of Tulsa, Oklahoma, on a bigger scale than quietly paying off school lunch debt, but that gesture by him and Wagner helps sum up a pair of players who care more about doing good work than getting credit for it, and helps illustrate why, for the second year in a row, Lockett is the Seahawks' nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
"I'm the type of person who, I don't like showing my face, because I don't want everybody to be thanking me," Lockett said. "I'd rather help from afar, so that way I don't have to worry about getting praised so much for doing things that I feel like should be second nature. But I think it's really cool to get nominated again. Just being able to understand going through that process, seeing all the Man of the Year nominees, seeing the things we did in the community. You don't want to feel like you're doing it for an award, but it's cool that this is the award that says thank you for all the things that you're doing"
Lockett is the first Seahawks player to be nominated for the Man of the Year Award in consecutive seasons since 2000, and one of only five players in team history with multiple nominations. Russell Wilson and Steve Largent are the only two players in franchise history to win the award, which is considered one the NFL's most prestigious honors.
Lockett also was last year's winner of the Steve Largent Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the spirit, dedication, and integrity of the Seahawks, as well as the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award, and this year he was voted a team captain for the first time in his career.
For the fourth consecutive year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII, on NBC.
Serving the community, whether it be back home in Tulsa, in Seattle, or in Kansas, where he attended college at Kansas State, has long been a passion of Lockett's.
"Eventually in life, you realize that you can make a difference, whether it's money, whether it's time, whether it's just words of encouragement or listening, you never really know what people need in order to make it through the day." Lockett said. "So it's pretty cool just to be able to be in those positions that God puts me in to make whatever difference I can, whether big or small."
Lockett recently launched a college scholarship program in which he selected seven students to receive $34,000 in scholarships for the 2021-22 academic year. Students who were awarded scholarships have since been admitted to Tennessee State University, Wichita State University, Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College, Oral Roberts University, and Tulsa Community College.
Lockett also hosted 12 Tulsa Public School students as part of a job shadow program, with students participating in a three-day job shadow with Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, Keller Williams Realty and the Seahawks. Participating students were also awarded a $5,000 scholarship, for a total of $60,000 in scholarships.
"It was pretty cool," Lockett said of the job shadow program. "They learned about the Seahawks and different jobs, different organizations… You never know when you're going to need these tools, so it was cool for them to be able to learn about being a real estate agent, or learn about a football organization or a hospital. It was a really good experience, and we heard a lot of great feedback."
Through his Youth Sports Leadership Initiative, Lockett identifies youth sports organizations that could excel and benefit from the donation of clothing, funding, and leadership principles. This year, Tyler identified three organizations in Oklahoma that received $21,000 in Adidas uniforms and funding to support their sport. He also partnered with Kansas State's athletics department, to provide $10,000 to the Kansas State football team to implement the Catapult Data Tracking technology. This wearable technology allows teams to track player distance traveled, explosive plays, and load.
Last year, Lockett's Light It Up Foundation donated more than $32,000 worth of clothing, shoes and food were donated to the Tulsa Day Center for the Homeless, and this year, Lockett donated $6,000 to support Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Tulsa's only nonprofit agency who provides comprehensive intervention and prevention services to men, women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence.
Lockett has also hosted youth football ProCamps in Seattle and Oklahoma dating back to 2017, two-day camps in which 300 youth receive skill training from Lockett and other coaches including instruction, lectures, fundamental football skills, and non-contact games in a high energy, fun, and positive environment.
As for on-field excellence, Lockett continues to be one of the NFL's best receivers in 2022, ranking fifth in the NFL in touchdown catches with seven, and in the top 15 in both receiving yards (836) and receptions (66), putting him on pace for a fourth-straight 1,000-yard season. Last year, Lockett became the second player in team history, along with Hall of Famer Steve Largent, to post three consecutive 1,000-yard seasons. Last week, Lockett matched a franchise record with a touchdown reception in five consecutive games, catching nine passes for a season-high 128 yards and a score in a win over the Rams.
Lockett and every other nominee will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive up to a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans can support Lockett's bid for the award through Nationwide's Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
As a nominee, Lockett will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Take a look at wide receiver Tyler Lockett in the community, both in the Seattle area and beyond, throughout his eight years in the NFL. Lockett is the Seahawks' 2022 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, given to a player for his excellence on and off the field.