Courtesy of the NFL
Miami Dolphins DE JASON TAYLOR was named the 2007 WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR, it was announced today.
For the first time in the award’s 37-year history, the winner was announced live on FOX before kickoff of Super Bowl XLII. NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL and Connie Payton, the late Walter Payton’s wife, presented Taylor with the award, the only league recognition that acknowledges a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence.
Taylor, the Dolphins’ all-time career sack leader and six-time Pro Bowl selection, established the Jason Taylor Foundation (JTF) in 2004 with a mission of creating programs that assist South Florida’s children in need by focusing on improved health care, education and quality of life. In 2007, the JTF launched the â€˜Jason Taylor Reading Room’ in Miramar, FL, an after-school program designed to address illiteracy among inner-city youth. Taylor also contributed $50,000 to the Holtz Children’s Hospital in Miami to support the â€˜Jason Taylor Children’s Learning Center,’ a recreational and educational hub for hospitalized children.
“I am extremely humbled to receive an award bearing Walter Payton’s name, as he embodied everything an NFL player should aspire to be, both on and off the field,” said Taylor. “This is without question one of the more special moments of my career.”
Taylor joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers, that are recognized for their excellence both on the field and in their communities. Recent winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award include DREW BREES of the New Orleans Saints and LADAINIAN TOMLINSON of the San Diego Chargers, co-winners in 2006, PEYTON MANNING of the Indianapolis Colts (2005) and WARRICK DUNN of the Atlanta Falcons (2004). A complete list of winners is below.
This year, Taylor was among four finalists for the award, including Steelers WR HINES WARD, Chiefs G BRIAN WATERS and Cowboys TE JASON WITTEN. Finalists were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel from the 32 team nominees for the award, all of whom receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice. The four finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation in their name. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL, former NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, Pro Football Hall of Famer ANTHONY MUÃ‘OZ, Sports Illustrated football writer Peter King, football greats FRANK GIFFORD and JACK KEMP, 2006 co-winners DREW BREES and LADAINIAN TOMLINSON and CONNIE PAYTON.