The annual award is one of the most prestigious honors in the league as it is given to an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
For being a nominee, Whitehead will get to wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season. In addition to leading the team in total tackles this season with 92, Whitehead has also made a big impact off the field in the community.
Some of the work that Whitehead has done in the community was highlighted by Raiders.com:
This season, Whitehead participated in the team’s Crucial Catch initiative, interacting with survivors and their families during a chocolate making workshop. For the second straight year, Whitehead led a group of Raiders in a visit to UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland to help deliver toys for the holiday season and made bedside visits to see patients. To support homeless vets, Whitehead hosted a 5K run/walk the week of Veterans Day around Oakland’s Lake Merritt, with all proceeds going to the Back on My Feet Foundation. He is also partnering with the Fam 1st Family Foundation to take underprivileged kids on a holiday shopping spree.
Last offseason, Whitehead’s random act of kindness earned him a fan for life following an encounter with a member of the military on the road. U.S. Army Sergeant David Marquez was headed home from his reserve training when he suffered a flat tire. Marquez watched car after car drive by, unwilling to offer their services. However, one car did. When asked why he stopped to help Marquez, Whitehead stated, “It was the right thing to do.”
The 29-year-old also participated in some NFL events during the team’s trip to London this year, also hosting a youth football camp each of the last five years.
Whitehead and the other 31 nominees will be recognized during Super Bowl week in Miami this February. Then, the winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in their name to their charity of choice and the winner will receive $250,000, presented by the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.