By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Every NFL team names its own nominee for the league's annual Walter Payton Man of the Year award. For 2019, the Patriots have nominated linebacker Kyle Van Noy.
The team announced their nomination for Van Noy on Thursday. One of the NFL's most prestigious end-of-season honors, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award recognizes players who combine excellence on the field with achievements in community service off the field. The award is named after the Hall of Fame former Chicago Bears running back, who is widely considered one of the greatest to ever play at his position and was also one of the most active players in charitable endeavors during his career.
Van Noy is well known for his extensive community service initiatives through the Van Noy Valor Foundation, whose mission is "Encouraging personal valor in the lives of adopted children, those in foster care and disadvantaged youth by armoring them with success through resources, mentors and opportunities." Van Noy himself was adopted as an infant, and his wife Marissa's father and younger brother were both adopted as well.
"It is a great honor to be nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” said Van Noy in a team press release. "Our foundation was put together so that we can share our stories and promote foster care and adoption and show how beautiful it is. It is meaningful because I have lived it, it is a part me and it is a part of my wife and her family. We understand the process, and we’ve seen the positive outcomes of the situation we are in. We like to share our message and hopefully it inspires other families."
Keeping in line with the criteria of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, Van Noy has also played some of the best football of his career on the field for the Patriots. Through 12 games in 2019, Van Noy has already reached new career highs in sacks (6.5) and quarterback hits (13). He's also forced three fumbles and recovered two, one of which he returned for a touchdown against the Giants.
The Patriots originally acquired Van Noy from the Detroit Lions along with a 2017 seventh-round pick in exchange for a 2017 sixth-round pick. It's turned out to be one of the best trades of Bill Belichick's career. Van Noy played a key role in the Patriots' dismantling of the Rams offense in a 13-3 win in Super Bowl LIII.
All 32 teams name a nominee, with the winner announced during the NFL Honors ceremony on the night before the Super Bowl. The Patriots also named special teams captain Matthew Slater as their nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award, which will also be announced at the NFL Honors ceremony.
Check out the full list of team nominees below, which also includes former Patriots left tackle, current New York Giant Nate Solder.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by @Nationwide honors players who have not only exhibited excellence on-the-field, but whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game. Meet this year’s nominees: https://t.co/UXT71rnv2F. #WPMOY pic.twitter.com/MrNdNhxZfm
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2019
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].