KANSAS CITY, Mo. — For Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, being the team’s nominee for the 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is more than just an honor.
“You want to make big plays in this league, but you wanna make an impact outside the game with the people in the community,” Mathieu said.
Every year, one player from all of the 32 NFL franchises is selected as a nominee for the illustrious award.
Mathieu credits the people who believed in him from a young age, like his late-grandmother, his high school football coach and former teammates, for teaching him to always give back.
“It’s a lot of people like that, that have really gave me a boost of confidence and a boost of self-esteem to not only be a good football player, but to try my best to be the right kind of man,” Mathieu said.
If Mathieu wins, he would receive $250,000 donated to his charity of choice. All 31 other nominees would receive up to $40,000.
“I think anytime you can get nominated, honored for a particular award that really symbolizes what you do for others, I think it’s a big deal,” Mathieu said. “Obviously, you don’t do those things for recognition. You just do them because it’s in your heart to do it.”
During the pre-game ceremonies of the Super Bowl, the winner of the award will be acknowledged and receive the trophy.
“He truly cares about people. I think that’s the biggest thing. He came up in a rougher part so he understands how much the impact of other people can be to bring out greatness in everyone,” Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes said. “For him to be in this locker room and be such a leader, it sets an example of how you should act on and off the field.”
Mathieu would join Will Lanier (1972), Len Dawson (1973), Derrick Thomas (1993), Will Shields (2003), and Brian Waters (2009) as Chiefs who have won the award.