Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Winners List

walter payton man of the year award

Established in 1970, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is given each year to honor an NFL player for excellence on and off the field. In particular, the award recognizes players for contributing to their communities. Each of the 32 NFL teams nominate one player, with the winner getting $250,000 donated to the charity of their choice. Here is a complete list of Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winners.

Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Winners

  • 1970: Johnny Unitas (Baltimore Colts)
  • 1971: John Hadl (San Diego Chargers)
  • 1972: Willie Lanier (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • 1973: Len Dawson (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • 1974: George Blanda (Oakland Raiders)
  • 1975: Ken Anderson (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 1976: Franco Harris (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • 1977: Walter Payton (Chicago Bears)
  • 1978: Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 1979: Joe Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • 1980: Harold Carmichael (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • 1981: Lynn Swann (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • 1982: Joe Theismann (Washington Redskins)
  • 1983: Rolf Benirschke (San Diego Chargers)
  • 1984: Marty Lyons (New York Jets)
  • 1985: Dwight Stephenson (Miami Dolphins)
  • 1986: Reggie Williams (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 1987: Dave Duerson (Chicago Bears)
  • 1988: Steve Largent (Seattle Seahawks)
  • 1989: Warren Moon (Houston Oilers)
  • 1990: Mike Singletary (Chicago Bears)
  • 1991: Anthony Muñoz (Cincinnati Bengals)
  • 1992: John Elway (Denver Broncos)
  • 1993: Derrick Thomas (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • 1994: Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers)
  • 1995: Boomer Esiason (New York Jets)
  • 1996: Darrell Green (Washington Redskins)
  • 1997: Troy Aikman (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 1998: Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins)
  • 1999: Cris Carter (Minnesota Vikings)
  • 2000: Jim Flanigan (Chicago Bears), Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
  • 2001: Jerome Bettis (Pittsburgh Steelers)
  • 2002: Troy Vincent (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • 2003: Will Shields (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • 2004: Warrick Dunn (Atlanta Falcons)
  • 2005: Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts)
  • 2006: LaDanian Tomlinson (San Diego Chargers), Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints)
  • 2007: Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins)
  • 2008: Kurt Warner (Arizona Cardinals)
  • 2009: Brian Waters (Kansas City Chiefs)
  • 2010: Madieu Williams (Minnesota Vikings)
  • 2011: Matt Birk (Baltimore Ravens)
  • 2012: Jason Witten (Dallas Cowboys)
  • 2013: Charles Tillman (Chicago Bears)
  • 2014: Thomas Davis Sr. (Carolina Panthers)
  • 2015: Anquan Boldin (San Francisco 49ers)
  • 2016: Eli Manning (New York Giants), Larry Fitzgerald (Arizona Cardinals)
  • 2017: J.J. Watt (Houston Texans)
  • 2018: Chris Long (Philadelphia Eagles)
  • 2019: Calais Campbell (Jacksonville Jaguars)
  • 2020: Russell Wilson (Seattle Seahawks)
  • 2021: Andrew Whitworth (Los Angeles Rams)
  • 2022: TBA


What is the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award?

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is given for a player who shows exceptional philanthropy and community impact. It was first given in 1970 and then simply called the NFL Man of the Year award. Starting in 1999, Walter Payton’s name was officially added to honor the 1977 recipient of the award who had died recently.

When did the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award start?

The NFL Man of the Year award was first given in 1970. It was awarded to Johnny Unitas, then quarterback for the Baltimore Colts, in honor of his charitable efforts. In 1999, the name of the award was changed to the “Walter Payton Man of the Year Award” in honor of the Chicago Bears quarterback who was known for his lifelong philanthropy.

How is the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner selected?

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner is selected by a panel of judges. First, the winner must be nominated, with each NFL team nominating one player. Then, a panel made up of the NFL Commissioner, the previous year’s award winner, and several former NFL players, vote to select the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.