The NFL announced this morning the 32 nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, and tight end Dwayne Allen was named the nominee for the Indianapolis Colts.
Each team nominates one player for the award, which recognizes players for their off-the-field work in the community. The winner will be announced the night before the Super Bowl, at the annual NFL Honors show (which this year will air on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at 9:00 p.m. ET on CBS). Each of the 32 nominees receives a $5,000 donation to the charity of his choice, while the two runner-ups receive an additional $6,000 donation and the winner receives an additional $50,000 donation.
Allen has been very involved in the community since being drafted by the Colts in 2012. A lot of that is motivated by his rough childhood and seeing his mother be a victim of domestic violence, and it's a story worth reading - so I'd highly recommend this recent Sports Illustrated profile. Now in his fourth year with the Colts, Allen does a lot for the community. During his rookie season, Allen was a part of most of the team's community Tuesday events, and he also got involved with Tarik Glenn's DREAM Alive, Inc. organization. According to the write-up of Allen's nomination for the award, the DREAM Alive's "mission is to equip urban youth to become leaders by providing them with mentoring relationships, character development and experiential learning." Allen hosts 20 youths at every home game and has helped raise nearly $200,000 for DREAM Alive. He has also took part in the NFL's "No More" campaign seeking to end domestic violence and has been involved in a number of organizations as well: such as Baskets of Hope, School on Wheels, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Indiana Children's Wish Fund. Furthermore, he was named the Colts' NFLPA player rep in 2014, was the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner in 2014, and went on a military tour this past summer along with Chuck Pagano, Andrew Luck, and others.
Allen is absolutely deserving of this recognition as he has made a significant and lasting impact on the community, and it's always nice to see players recognized for their off-the-field work. Recently, other Colts have been honored for similar exploits, such as Joe Reitz (the team's Ed Block Courage Award winner), Matt Hasselbeck (the team's Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award winner), and Pat McAfee (the team's Salute to Service Award winner).
When the winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is announced, Allen could become just the third Colt in franchise history to earn such an honor. Quarterbacks Johnny Unitas (1970) and Peyton Manning (2005) are the only Colts to win the award on the league level, but regardless of whether Allen wins that, it's a great honor to be the team's nominee and recognizes him for his outstanding work in the community.