By Kierstin Lindkvist
Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday, the 32 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees spent Friday giving back to the community with the Boys and Girls Club of the Valley. Including everything from running drills, planting trees, playing flag football, and decorating cleats, the players celebrated the outstanding teens who have dedicated their time to their schools, club, and the community – culminating in surprising them with tickets to the big game. Here’s a closer look at the time they spent together and how these teens embody the same values the Walter Payton Man of the Year award encourages.
“One two three… play 60.”
GRAPHICS: THE NFL’S MAN OF THE YEAR NOMINEES SPENT FRIDAY WITH THE BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB OF THE VALLEY
“Good, job, Jacob, go.”
GRAPHICS: ONE PLAYER FROM EACH TEAM IN THE NFL WAS NOMINATED FOR THE WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD. IT’S AN AWARD THAT CELEBRATES OUTSTANDING COMMUNITY IMPACT AND PHILANTHROPY — SIMILAR TO THE WORK ELEVEN YOUTH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES DO HERE IN PHOENIX.
Marcia Mintz, chief executive officer for the Boys and Girls Club of the Valley: They are the most outstanding teens in our clubs, and just like the Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees, these teens have dedicated themselves to their schools, their club, and the community.
GRAPHICS: TOGETHER, THE KIDS AND PLAYERS DID EVERYTHING FROM RUNNING DRILLS AND PLAYING FLAG FOOTBALL … TO PLANTING TREES AND PLAYING OTHER GAMES…
“Team on three. One, two, three … team.”
Shaquille Leonard, Indianapolis Colts linebacker: Everybody has high energy. I’m already winded as you can see, but it’s been a great day. So let’s go, baby!
GRAPHICS: TO DECORATING CLEATS THEY GOT TO TAKE HOME.
Mintz: Today’s event shows the heart of the NFL. It’s the true heart and the commitment that these players and their teams have to investing in young people.”
Tyler Lockett, Seattle Seahawks wide receiver: Sometimes great vision has no vision … some tie- dye stuff maybe. I don’t know. I’ve got to start and see the vision from there.
Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner: It’s not just because they’re good players. In fact, this award is given because of character.
GRAPHICS: THESE PLAYERS AND TEENS GOT TO TALK AND OPEN UP TO ONE ANOTHER WITH SOME SHARING THEY DEDICATED THEIR CLEAT DESIGNS TO CANCER AND SUICIDE AWARENESS.
Mintz: The players here today are modeling the importance of working hard, volunteering and service to others.
Goodell: We’re fortunate to have these men, and fortunate in you, and fortunate to have them in your communities, and these are the types of people you should be looking up to as young people.
GRAPHICS: THIS YEAR’S MAN OF THE YEAR WINNER WAS DALLAS COWBOYS’ QUARTERBACK DAK PRESCOTT.
Dak Prescott, Dallas Cowboys quarterback and Walter Payton Man of the Year: Got the man of the year right here. There are the three things my foundation: fight, finish, faith back here, and then just got creative with the little just art — flinging splatters. Simple, simple.
Aaron Jones, Green Bay Packers running back: I actually have a pair. That’s what gave me the inspiration. A pair that’s pretty bedazzled out.
GRAPHICS: TO CELEBRATE THE HARD WORK THESE YOUTH OF THE YEAR CANDIDATES HAVE DONE ALL YEAR LONG, THOSE TEENS GOT A SPECIAL SURPRISE …
Prescott: Congratulate you for all your hard work, and more importantly say enjoy the Super Bowl on behalf of the NFL.
Bailey Mitchell, Boys and Girls Club of the Valley teen: I just don’t even know what to say. I’m just so thankful for like everyone at the Boys and Girls Club, the NFL, Nationwide.
Kierstin Lindkvist is a Medill graduate student in the sports media specialization. Follow her on Twitter @KLindkvistNews or Instagram @kelindkvist, and connect with her on LinkedIn.