The Los Angeles Rams announced on Tuesday that veteran left-tackle Andrew Whitworth was the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The prestigious award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service and excellence on the field. All 32 teams select one player to nominate for the award.
Whitworth turns 40 years on Sunday and continues to be one of the veteran leaders for a star-studded LA Rams team that has Super Bowl aspirations. Whitworth is not only a leader on the field, but also off the field where he gives back to the communities across Los Angeles.
In previous years, Whitworth has donated his time, money, and other resources to various charities and families in need. In 2018, Whitworth donated his game check to victims of the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks, CA home of the Rams training facility and hosted the families in a suite for the game against the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday Night Football.
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In the wake of the global protests following the death of George Floyd during the COVID-19 pandemic in June of 2020, Whitworth challenged his teammates to donate money to social justice charities. He told his teammates he would match every dollar they donated. As part of that effort alone, Whitworth contributed more than $215,000 to the players' social justice fund and supported 25 different LA-based non-profit organizations to address education inequities, community-police relations, mentoring programs, prison reform, youth justice, workforce development, financial literacy, food insecurity, and homelessness.
Earlier that year, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Whitworth donated more than $250,000 to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank as part of their virtual Te'LA'thon that raised money to support COVID-19 response relief. Whitworth's contribution alone paid for more than 1 million meals that were distributed to Angelenos across the Southland.
During the holiday season in 2019, Whitworth funded a shopping spree for 77 youth as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ventura County charity. Whitworth provided each child with a $100 gift card to purchase whatever they wanted on their holiday wish list. Days later, Whitworth teamed up with the United Way of Los Angeles to make the holiday season brighter fo local children and families that were battling homelessness. Because of "Big Whit," a total of 114 children received wrapped gifts from their personal Christmas list, and he surprised 77 families living in temporary housing with a $500 gift card to either Albertsons, Vons, or Pavilions for purchase of groceries. He also catered a holiday meal for them.
During last year's holiday season, Whitworth purchased wish list items for 53 different families living in shelters. The Whitworth family purchased gift cards for nearly 100 children and provided the 53 families with a $500 grocery gift card along with pre-packaged holiday meals.
Whitworth has also paid for the "Big Whit STEM Labs" at local elementary and middle schools to help close the technology gap for low-income students. Over the past four years, he's encouraged teammates to join him for the annual Rams Night for Wishes and has helped raise more than $875,000 to grant wishes for multiple children across the country that are currently battling life threatening illnesses
Most recently, at the beginning of the 2021 season, Whitworth launched his own charity called "Big Whit Homes for LA Families." The charity repairs homes in Whitworth's home state of Louisiana and assists families in Los Angeles facing homelessness by moving them into affordable homes. After each home game, Whitworth donates $20,000 to the charity. As part of the program's efforts, Whitworth works with other non-profits in Los Angeles to help families pay for rent and groceries, puts down payments on homes, and furnish homes.
Whitworth's big heart is always on display. Earlier this season, Whitworth played host to more than 30 military veterans and their families. He paid for them to be in a suite for a Rams home game at SoFi Stadium. Whitworth also played co-host for the Rams' annual Night of Wishes benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. It was the fourth consecutive year Whitworth co-hosted the event. Also for Christmas, Whitworth is paying to furnish an apartment for a mother and her three children who are in the process of transitioning from a homeless shelter to permanent housing.
“I never forget the moments spent out in the community and I’ve appreciated the Rams and the job they have done to be my partner in making a difference for people who deserve our support. To me, one of the longest-lasting things we can do and one of the greatest impacts we can have is not only to win football games, but to win in the communities where we live. That’s how you create a culture that expands outside your building,” said Whitworth. “Sports in general is about support. I think of it as a father, and I’m there to support and watch them no different than a community is there to support and watch us every single week. My way of showing that support back is to make sure that I’m in the community helping people so they can take that next step they want to take in their life, the same way that I’ve been supported my entire career. I’m thankful for the opportunity to play in the NFL, but I’m most thankful for the opportunity to impact lives.”
"From the moment Andrew became a Los Angeles Ram, he established himself as a cornerstone of our organization through his unmatched leadership, his commitment to serving others, and his ability to inspire those around him to be the best versions of themselves,” said Rams Chief Operating Officer, Kevin Demoff. “We are grateful to have leaders like Andrew, who leaves us in awe with his ageless talent on the field and with his dedication to improving the lives of so many in our city and beyond.”
As the Rams' nominees, Whitworth will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year decal on his helmet through the end of the season as a way of recognition for his off the field accomplishments.
All 32 nominees from each team will receive up to $40,000 as a donation in their name to a charity of their choice, and be recognized during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVI, which will be held in Los Angeles this year. The winner of the award will be announced during the annual NFL Honors awards show that takes place on the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI. The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
The Walter Peyton NFL Man of the Year award began in 1970. Previous winners of the award include Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (2020), Baltimore Ravens defensive end Calais Campbell (2019), and Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt (2017).
Here is the complete list of all 32 nominees from each NFL team for the 2021 season:
Kelvin Beachum, Arizona
Mike Davis, Atlanta
Bradley Bozeman, Baltimore
Harrison Phillips, Buffalo
DJ Moore, Carolina
Jimmy Graham, Chicago
Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati
Denzel Ward, Cleveland
Dak Prescott, Dallas
Justin Simmons, Denver
Jason Cabinda, Detroit
Aaron Jones, Green Bay
Justin Reid, Houston
Kenny Moore II, Indianapolis
Myles Jack, Jacksonville
Tyrann Mathieu, Kansas City
Darren Waller, Las Vegas
Corey Linsley, Los Angeles Chargers
Andrew Whitworth, Los Angeles Rams
Jerome Baker, Miami
Anthony Barr, Minnesota
Lawrence Guy, New England
Cameron Jordan, New Orleans
Logan Ryan, New York Giants
Quinnen Williams, New York Jets
Jason Kelce, Philadelphia
Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh
Arik Armstead, San Francisco
Tyler Lockett, Seattle
Mike Evans, Tampa Bay
Derrick Henry, Tennessee
Jonathan Allen, Washington