On Thursday, all 32 NFL teams announced their nominations for the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. For the Bengals, their nominee is defensive end Michael Johnson.
The veteran defensive lineman is among 32 team winners now in contention for the league WPMOY Award, the only NFL award recognizing a player's off-field community service and playing excellence combined.
"I'm proud and extremely humbled to be nominated for the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award," said Johnson. "Everywhere I go, I try my best to represent my family, my home and my team. This is truly an honor."
"Michael never hesitates to step up," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a press release. "He feels the need and passion to go over and above to mentor and support our young people. He is a role model on and off the field."
Johnson has been committed to giving back since his rookie season in the league. The mission of the MJ93-90 Foundation is to educate children on the importance of capitalizing on their talents and abilities with mentorship, educational programming and encouraging them to have a vision for success.
Johnson recently started a program encouraging kids and the Cincinnati Police Department to strengthen their relationship by strengthening their understanding of one another. This year's program includes a community service component where the kids and officers volunteer together.
"The goal is to get kids and officers working side by side for the betterment of the community and to learn from each other, which can ultimately lead to a stronger bond and a safer community,” said Johnson. “We are one team with one goal in one community so I encourage everyone to ask themselves: Are you part of the problem or are you part of the solution?"
Johnson most recently held an event with the students and police this week. The kids and officers met at Saint Anthony Center to wrap diapers for Sweet Cheeks Diaper Donation Center. The diapers are given to families in need.
In November, Johnson held an event with the group in honor of Veteran’s Day. Johnson also participates in countless community activities including a few that he co-hosts with fellow Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap.
Starting in Week 14, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy silhouette will appear in uniform elements to further recognize past award winners and current nominees. Johnson will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Three of the 32 nominees will be selected as finalists, and the winner will be announced in Minneapolis at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 3, the night before Super Bowl LII, from 8-10 p.m. on NBC.
Five hundred thousand dollars will be donated in the name of the 2017 winner. $250,000 will be donated to the winner's charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country.
The two other finalists will each receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice and a $100,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All other 29 nominees will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to expand Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and United Way Worldwide.
The Man of the Year Award has been given annually by the NFL since 1970. It was renamed in 1999 for Payton, the Chicago Bears' Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. Two Bengals are past winners of the league award; Ken Anderson in 1975 and Anthony Munoz in 1991. Carlos Dunlap was a finalist in 2015 but ultimately didn’t win the award.
WPMOY 2017 Nominees
|Arizona Cardinals||Patrick Peterson|
|Atlanta Falcons||Ben Garland|
|Baltimore Ravens||Benjamin Watson|
|Buffalo Bills||Lorenzo Alexander|
|Carolina Panthers||Greg Olsen|
|Chicago Bears||Sam Acho|
|Cincinnati Bengals||Michael Johnson|
|Cleveland Browns||Randall Telfer|
|Dallas Cowboys||Travis Frederick|
|Denver Broncos||Chris Harris Jr.|
|Detroit Lions||Haloti Ngata|
|Green Bay Packers||Clay Matthews|
|Houston Texans||J.J. Watt|
|Indianapolis Colts||Darius Butler|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Malik Jackson|
|Kansas City Chiefs||Alex Smith|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Casey Hayward|
|Los Angeles Rams||Rodger Saffold|
|Miami Dolphins||Kenny Stills|
|Minnesota Vikings||Kyle Rudolph|
|New England Patriots||Nate Solder|
|New Orleans Saints||Cameron Jordan|
|New York Giants||Mark Herzlich|
|New York Jets||Quincy Enunwa|
|Oakland Raiders||Bruce Irvin|
|Philadelphia Eagles||Malcolm Jenkins|
|Pittsburgh Steelers||Cameron Heyward|
|San Francisco 49ers||Bradley Pinion|
|Seattle Seahawks||Michael Bennett|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Clinton McDonald|
|Tennessee Titans||Wesley Woodyard|
|Washington Redskins||Nick Sundberg|