We talk so much about what Bengals players do on-the-field and it's nice to also recognize them for the work done off-the-field too. Carlos Dunlap is getting that recognition as the Bengals' 2015 nominee for the league's Walter Payton Man of the Year award. 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 and renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each NFL team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community.
Some of the many things Dunlap has done to impact the Cincinnati community include:
- Providing underprivileged students with ACT and SAT prep tools.
- Donating spa services for women battling and who have survived breast cancer
- Providing birthday parties for homeless children
- Participating in a Thanksgiving turkey giveaway
- Hanging out with children at local Boys and Girls clubs
Two Bengals have won The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award in the past, Kenny Anderson won in 1975 and Anthony Munoz in 1991. Because Dunlap is the team's nominee, the presenting sponsor, Nationwide, will donate 10,000 dollars to the Carlos Dunlap Foundation. If Dunlap is selected from the 32 nominees as the winner, an extra 50,000 dollars will be donated to the charity of his choice.
On-the-field, Dunlap is a force for the Bengals' defense. He currently leads the Bengals with 8.5 sacks which places him fourth overall in the NFL. Dunlap is also the current roster leader in career sacks (44.0), ranked fourth in Bengals franchise history. He also leads the team in total QB hits this season (22), leads the defensive line in tackles (35) and ranks second in tackles-for-loss (11).
Fans can get involved in the charity challenge that accompanies this award by voting for Dunlap using the hashtag #DunlapWPMOYChallenge on any social media platform. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most by Dec. 31 will receive a $20,000 donation to his charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
A panel of judges including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Connie Payton, Anthony Muñoz, LaDainian Tomlinson and the 2014 award recipient, Thomas Davis, will select the overall winner. The winner will be announced during the 5th Annual NFL Honors awards show on Feb. 6, the night before Super Bowl 50, from 9-11 p.m. EST on CBS.
Some of the other players nominated for the award on other NFL teams include Patrick Peterson, Steve Smith Sr., Matt Forte, Greg Olsen, J.J. Watt, Eric Berry, and Richard Sherman.