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Winning any of the AP’s individual NFL awards Dennis Byrd Jerseys Stitched , from MVP to top rookie, means plenty to players.Being nominated for, no less winning, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award means more.Don’t minimize how proud a guy is when he’s voted one of the prestigious individual awards. It’s a portion of his resume that jumps off the page the way Saquon Barkley hurdles over potential tacklers.But being selected for the Payton award, renamed in 1999 for the great Chicago Bears running back and humanitarian, involves so much more than football achievements.“It is probably one of my greatest accomplishments,” says 2013 winner Charles Tillman, who played 12 seasons at cornerback for the Bears and his final year with the Panthers. “It really shows the true character of a person.“When fans see us, they just assume a lot of times we are just athletes. They don’t know what these men do on their days off during the season, in the community. A lot of players really put their community service in every week of the year. They get their charity work done and their volunteer work.“The Walter Payton Award is about excellence off the field. I am proud to be associated with that award.”Who wouldn’t be? In a time when many NFL players have been criticized or even condemned for their protests of social and racial injustice during the national anthem, many — if not most of them — also have been doing good deeds in their communities. They don’t do it for recognition or applause. As Tillman notes, they do it because they can “shed light on a bigger thing. It’s not just football. It’s about being a good person, serving other people and loving other people.”Unlike in the past, when three finalists were selected before a recipient was chosen, one player from every NFL team is a finalist. All will be recognized and participate in NFL functions during Super Bowl week. The Man of the Year will be revealed at NFL Honors, when The Associated Press’ individual NFL awards are announced Feb. 2 in Atlanta.Five current players have won the award: Drew Brees, Thomas Davis Youth Mark Gastineau Jerseys , Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and J.J. Watt, and they wear a Man of the Year patch on their jerseys. All 2018 finalists will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal beginning this week through the end of the season.“It’s a tremendous honor,” Jets offensive tackle Kelvin Beachum says. This week, Beachum surprised Ca’moore Jones, an eighth-grade student at Orange Preparatory Academy in New Jersey, with two Super Bowl tickets. Moore was nominated by his teacher, Glenn Gamble, for his performance and growth with the Character Playbook course that is embraced by the NFL.“Just the name Walter Payton, he’s the gold standard,” Beachum said. “What he did off the field and on the field, his excellence is bar none, top in history. So to be mentioned in the same name and the same breath as him, it’s truly humbling.”Humbling is an appropriate word because the award finalists often feel that sensation during their community work.“I’ve been blessed to play in this league for 13 years and to be a part of some really good seasons,” says Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, who is heavily involved with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. “But making a difference in someone’s life will go beyond football any day of the week. It’s not just about the game, it’s about the opportunity to bring people together. When I look back and think about my NFL career Mark Gastineau Jerseys Stitched , the time spent out in the community giving back to people in need will always be the most touching to me.”Adds Colts DE Jabaal Sheard: “With our jobs as NFL players comes a huge platform to brighten and improve the lives of others, and that’s what I strive to do every day.”Tillman knows firsthand how kind and giving people can be. His own family was helped in 2008 when his infant daughter Tiana needed a heart transplant. Magali Garcia, the mother of 9-week-old Armando, who died in a Minnesota hospital, offered her son’s heart.To Tillman, Magali Garcia is a hero, not him. She is what the Payton award is all about.“When my daughter needed a new heart, another person stepped up and decided to take a bad situation and turn it into a success story,” Tillman says. “She not only blessed my family but other families with her choice.“For all we do in our foundation, it is a great blessing for what this woman did for her son. Magali, she is the one who actually is blessing those people, blesses them every day, and doesn’t even know it. She served my family and a lot of families and she made an amazing choice. A tough decision. I think about her son a lot and I truly am sorry. She is a part of my family, and for us to have this story that has bonded us, and this connection, and to turn that negative into something positive by blessing other people … I get great satisfaction in that.”So when the NFL Honors program is televised the night before the Super Bowl, pay special attention to the names below. Maybe stand up and give them an ovation for the truly special things they do:Arizona Cardinals: Antoine BetheaAtlanta Falcons: Grady JarrettBaltimore Ravens: Brandon CarrBuffalo Bills: Lorenzo AlexanderCarolina Panthers: Julius PeppersChicago Bears: Trey BurtonCincinnati Bengals: Carlos DunlapCleveland Browns: Christian KirkseyDallas Cowboys: Dak PrescottDenver Broncos: Von MillerDetroit Lions: Matthew StaffordGreen Bay Packers: Kenny ClarkHouston Texans: Whitney MercilusIndianapolis Colts: Jabaal SheardJacksonville Jaguars: Blake BortlesKansas City Chiefs: Dustin ColquittLos Angeles Chargers: Corey LiugetLos Angeles Rams: Andrew WhitworthMiami Dolphins: Kenny StillsMinnesota Vikings: Kyle RudolphNew England Patriots: Devin McCourtyNew Orleans Saints: Mark IngramNew York Giants: Michael ThomasNew York Jets: Kelvin BeachumOakland Raiders: Marshawn LynchPhiladelphia Eagles: Chris LongPittsburgh Steelers: Cameron HeywardSan Francisco 49ers: Robbie GouldSeattle Seahawks: K.J. WrightTampa Bay Buccaneers: Gerald McCoyTennessee Titans: Jurrell CaseyWashington Redskins: Vernon Davis Eight days ago Youth Sam Darnold Jerseys , the Jets abruptly fired G.M. Mike Maccagnan. The search for a replacement has not yet officially begun. When the time comes to make a hire, the hire will be made by one person: CEO and chairman Christopher Johnson.That’s what coach Adam Gase explained to reporters in his first press conference following the firing of Maccagnan.Gase characterized the search as being in the “beginning stages of our process,” and that the goal for now is to identify candidates.“We’ve been working to really kind of finalizing what we’re thinking as far as people,” Gase said.When asked what Gase is looking for, he reiterated that it’s Johnson’s decision.“We’re doing our part,” Gase said. “There’s a group of us working on this.”Gase acknowledged that, despite the “mold” that other teams use when hiring General Managers, Johnson is “looking for something a little bit different.” This meshes with Johnson’s comments from last week that he wants a “great strategic thinker,” and not necessarily a talent evaluator.The first-year coach, who arrived after three seasons as head coach in Miami, explained that it’s not important that he have a prior relationship with the new G.M. Gase also made it clear that the new G.M. will have final say over the roster, and that he won’t be a “yes” man.“I don’t really hang out with ‘yes’ men,” Gase said. “If it’s someone I already know, it won’t be a ‘yes’ man.”Gase emphasized that roster development will be a collaborative process, but that at the end of the day the G.M. will have the power to make the decision that he wants to make.Still, the reality remains that the Jets have two general options for hiring a new General Manager. They can hire the “best person for the job,” or they can hire the best person with whom Gase is already comfortable. If it’s the former Sam Darnold Jerseys Stitched , chances are that the new G.M. will arrive with a list developed over a lifetime in football of coaches the G.M. would hire, if/when he becomes a G.M. There’s a chance Gase’s name won’t be on that list, especially if the two men have no prior relationship.That’s what could set the stage for further dysfunction. Every G.M. wants to hire his own coach, and the G.M. will be inclined to tread water for a year or two before making a move to hire the coach he would have hired in the first place. Given the turmoil Jets have endured in recent years, it would be far better to hire a G.M. with whom Gase is comfortable, make it clear that they will be equally accountable, and find out whether or not they can turn a long-suffering franchise into a team that more often than not makes its opponents endure the suffering.If they can’t, the next move would be to clean house and start over, with a new G.M. and a new head coach. By then, team owner Woody Johnson could be back from his ambassadorship in the U.K., reclaiming control of the team from his younger brother, perhaps while simultaneously saying, “Hold my beer.”Which would naturally cause Jets fans to once again hold their breath, and to hope for a better outcome.
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