Since 1970, the NFL has nominated one player from each team to represent their franchise as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. This year, linebacker Jerome Baker will represent the Miami Dolphins.
Here’s a look at the official press release from the team:
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins today announced linebacker Jerome Baker as its nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE. Considered one of the league’s most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league’s 32 nominees were announced today.
Baker is a regular presence in the South Florida community, utilizing his platform as a Miami Dolphins player to make Miami and the surrounding area a better place. One of the first recurring events he established after he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 was a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. Born on Christmas Day himself, he hosts the event for children as a birthday gift and even made sure the event could be held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Baker also steps in during times of need. When a residential building collapsed in the nearby town of Surfside in June 2021, he partnered with a minority-owned small business food truck to provide meals to first responders aiding in the recovery efforts. After an earthquake hit Haiti in August 2021, Baker partnered with Miami Dolphins Football UNITES community partner City of North Miami to transport donation items to Haiti and supported a call for action for the public to deliver goods needed by the country.
His efforts aren’t limited to just South Florida either. When he was drafted in 2018, Baker established the Expand the Land Foundation to inspire youth and provide mentorship and programming in his hometown of Cleveland.
Since then, he’s hosted multiple events to benefit students in both the Cleveland and Miami communities. Baker has partnered with Miami Dolphins Football UNITES community partners, working with organizations like Feeding South Florida to assist with meal packing, 5000 Role Models youth mentorship programming and police ride-alongs. In 2020, Baker wanted to find a way to give back to the Cleveland community, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic hit home. He hosted a socially-distanced backpack giveaway at his high school alma mater, Benedictine, for kids in grades 2-8 to motivate kids in school.
All 32 nominees will be recognized for their achievements during Super Bowl weekend. In addition, this year’s 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year will be announced during the NFL honors ceremony, which airs on primetime the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community.
Representing the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact, 32 players are selected as their team’s Man of the Year and become eligible to win the national award.
The winner of the award each year receives a $250,000 donated to the winner’s charity of choice. All other 31 nominees receive up to $40,000 donated to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.e encouraged to vote using a hashtag on social media. For more information on fan voting, click the link HERE.
On the field, Jerome Baker continues to be a valuable piece in Brian Flores’s defense. Through 12 games, Miami’s starting linebacker has recorded 66 total tackles, one forced fumble, and nine quarterback hits on the season.
What are your thoughts on Jerome Baker being the Miami Dolphins nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award? Are you enjoying the five-game win streak? What about the BYE week? Let us know in the comments section below!