CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Carolina Panthers are on the outside looking in with a long shot to make the NFL playoffs, but even if Carolina doesn't make it to the Super Bowl, one of their own has a chance to bring home one of the league's most prestigious awards.
Defensive tackle Derrick Brown was named the team's nominee for the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes players who show not only excellence on the field, but also have a positive influence beyond the game, leaving legacies in their communities.
Thomas Davis is the only player in Panthers history to win the award, receiving it in 2014.
Brown says the focus of his charity, The Derrick Brown Foundation, is "untraditional." Instead of focusing on one key area, Brown's organization seeks ways to make a difference here in Charlotte and his hometown of Sugar Hill, Georgia.
Since being drafted by the Panthers in 2020, Brown has been involved with helping at-risk youth and families. His foundation has impacted over 3,000 children through community events and over 4,000 families through holiday gifting and resource distributions through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brown held a free youth football camp with 200 players in Gwinnett County, Georgia, this year. He also supported 15 at-risk kids with a shopping spree that included sneakers, school supplies and clothing. He also provided nine students at Lanier High School, his alma mater, with $40,000 in scholarships.
He credits his own upbringing as the motivation to make a difference for others.
"We didn't have everything, so we had people that would help us," Brown told Panthers.com. "I think about it all the time — those that helped me helped my parents. It's just one of those things in life where I'm just like, all the moments that I had growing up, there's a kid out there just like me, growing up in that same situation I grew up in. I keep that mindset over and over and over again."
Brown's charity work took off at the height of the pandemic when he put together care baskets for five families, including $1,000 for day-to-day needs. He also held a drive-thru Halloween event with over $50,000 in candy and costumes for children.
All 32 NFL teams have a player nominated for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. All 32 winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their work leading up to Super Bowl 57. The winner will be announced during the NFL Honors show on Thursday before the Super Bowl, which will be aired on NBC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner will also receive up to a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL and Nationwide insurance.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 8th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique mention is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second- and third-place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
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