CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was nominated for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Thursday.
Olsen, who was a finalist for the award last season, is being recognized by the NFL for his impact off the field, most notably with the HEARTest Yard Fund, which was founded after a routine examination of Olsen’s unborn son, T.J., revealed the child suffered from a rare heart condition. This season marks the third consecutive year Olsen has represented the Panthers for the award.
Olsen tweeted his thanks to the Charlotte community and the NFL for being named a nominee for the prestigious award.
I am honored to once again be chosen as the @Panthers Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. It is a pleasure to serve our wonderful community and we are very thankful for the tremendous support you have showed our family and foundation. We look forward to bigger things to come. pic.twitter.com/sYL8e7A8TE— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) December 8, 2017
The three-time Pro Bowl tight end also penned an emotional letter to the Panthers' website, recalling his family's journey from T.J.'s diagnosis until their current work through the HEARTest Yard.
“I am extremely grateful and honored to be nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” Olsen said. “I am thankful the NFL allows its players to use their platforms to advocate on behalf of causes that mean a great deal to them on a personal level. I would also like to recognize all of the other Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees for their efforts to impact their own communities through initiatives close to their own heart. It is humbling to be nominated for such a prestigious award and to honor the legacy of Walter and the entire Payton Family.”
Olsen also tweeted Thursday that the Panthers will be selling limited-edition beanies by New Era beginning Sunday that will benefit Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte.
We are happy to announce that our limited edition @LevineChildrens beanies,by our friends @NewEraCap, will go ON SALE Sunday @Panthers team store. Stop by and support our friends @LevineChildrens pic.twitter.com/iikgICzDuq— Greg Olsen (@gregolsen88) December 7, 2017
“Greg has an incredible heart. I love the guy,” teammate and 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year recipient Thomas Davis said. “After everything he faced with his son’s surgeries, he never turned his back on his team, and never walked away from serving the community. He is an outstanding friend, husband, father and teammate, and someone I truly admire.”
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is considered one of the League’s most prestigious honors. Three of the 32 team nominees will be selected as finalists for the national award, renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. Finalists will be announced in January 2018. 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 PM (ET and PT) on NBC.
$500,000 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.\