KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to face the Las Vegas Raiders, they are taking a moment to celebrate.
On Tuesday, the organization announced safety Tyrann Mathieu would be their nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. One of the NFL’s highest individual honors.
Head coach Andy Reid and quarterback Patrick Mahomes took the time Wednesday to comment on the Mathieu's nomination.
“It’s awesome, because you know the work that he puts in, not only on the field but off the field as well," Mahomes said. "And he’s done it in every single community that he’s been in from Arizona, New Orleans, Houston to now Kansas City. He has always given back to the community. I’m grateful for him to be a leader on this team, to be such a great person. And I’m happy for him to have this honor and hopefully go out there and win it.”
Reid said many people will give monetarily, but Mathieu "gives his time."
“He’s a very giving person,” Reid said. “He’s been through a lot in his life and he understands that the people that need, need him and he can share his experiences with those people. I think he’s tremendous. Big heart, great person. He’s willing to give up time — a lot of people say, ‘I’m willing to contribute with money.’ But they’re not willing to spend the time. He really does both, but he’s willing to get out there with the people and spend the time doing things.”
The award, which has been presented annually since 1970 and was renamed in Payton’s honor in 1999, is given to a player who best represents “the NFL's commitment to philanthropy and community impact,” according to a release from the league announcing the 32 team winners.
Mathieu has a good chance at becoming the sixth player in Kansas City to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, joining all-time great players such as Willie Lanier (1972), Len Dawson (1973), Derrick Thomas (1993), Will Shields (2003) and Brian Waters (2009).
"I think we all grew up really experiencing different things," Mathieu said. "I think for me, I played football because I loved that part of it, the team part of it, coming together, building, really helping other people become what they want to be and so it's kind of like the same mindset when it comes to the community. You want to feel apart of something, you want those people to feel special and you want to be able to recognize those people as well."
Each team winner receives a $40,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
The league-wide winner will be announced Feb. 10 during the NFL Honors awards special. He receives a $250,000 donation to charity courtesy of the NFL Foundation and nationwide.