KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu has been an All-Pro on the field during his three seasons with the club.
He’s also emerged as an all-star in the community, making him the Chiefs’ nominee for the 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
“I’m very honored to be nominated as the Chiefs Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Mathieu said in a statement from the team. “This team and community are very important to me. I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people in Kansas City, many who are going through difficult times. I think anytime you have an opportunity to lend your hand or even give a little bit of hope, that’s always a good thing."
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.
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.
Mathieu is active in the community in his hometown of New Orleans as well as Kansas City.
Mathieu also partnered with FosterAdopt Connect to surprise several families with Christmas gifts this week and is active with the Boys and Girls Club through the Tyrann Mathieu Foundation, which strives to make “an impact in the lives of low-income children through encouragement, opportunities and resources to achieve their dreams,” according to the foundation’s bio on Twitter.
“The Tyrann Mathieu Foundation was created to impact people in the community, and I look forward to all of our events each and every year,” Mathieu, who previously played for Arizona and Houston, said in a statement. “It’s always important to dive into the community, get to know people and make yourself a part of their lives. I’m proud and grateful to help the people of Kansas City who do so much for us, and I want to thank my foundation team and the Chiefs for their constant support."
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, Mathieu partnered with Harvesters to donate 30,000 meals and he also took part in a radiothon to raise money to help those adversely impacted by the pandemic — including Hope House, ReStart and the BMA Foundation.
Mathieu’s foundation also organizes school supply drives and sponsored “Tyrann’s Teachers” last spring, which surprised 32 teachers in the Kansas City area with gift baskets.
“There are many other players who do so much for their communities, so I’m honored for this recognition,” Mathieu said. “I think we all face different adversities, so it’s important to share hope. I want to continue to make a difference in the lives of others here in Kansas City and in my hometown of New Orleans.”
Mathieu also was active in voter registration efforts ahead of the 2020 election.
On the field, Mathieu has emerged as an unapologetic team leader for the Chiefs’ defense, helping end a 50-year championship drought in his first season and return to the Super Bowl in his second with Kansas City.
This season, Mathieu has 58 tackles, including two for a loss with a sack, and two interceptions. He returned a pick for a touchdown against Baltimore and also has recovered a fumble and defended five passes this season.
He’s a two-time Pro Bowl selection, including last year, and was the Chiefs’ Derrick Thomas MVP in 2019.
"The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the League's most prestigious honor and these 32 men represent their many teammates who do incredible things in their communities," NFL Commissioner Roger Goddell said in a statement. "Their unwavering commitment to their hometowns and team communities embodies Walter's spirit of giving back in a way that makes us all incredibly proud of the work they are doing every day."
Football fans can also help their favorite player earn an additional $10,000 to $25,000 through Nationwide’s seventh annual Charity Challenge on Twitter by using the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge along with the player’s name or Twitter handle.
The player who receives the most votes on social media from Dec. 7 to Jan. 17 will receive $25,000 for charity, whole second place receives $15,000 and third place gets $10,000.
“We’re very excited to have Tyrann Mathieu represent the Chiefs organization and the Kansas City community as our nominee for this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said in a statement. “From the time he joined the Chiefs in 2019, Tyrann has been a true leader, both on and off the football field. He is one of the best safeties in the game, and he has been a major contributor to our recent success."
There are several other nominees with ties to Kansas City.
Travis Kelce’s brother, Philadelphia Eagles center Jason Kelce and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Tyler Lockett, a former Kansas State star, also are 2021 nominees.
Five Chiefs players have won the league-wide award — Willie Lanier (1972), Len Dawson (1973), Derrick Thomas (1993), Will Shields (2003) and Brian Waters (2009).
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson won the honor in 2020.