The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is often described as the NFL’s most prestigious award. It recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field.
Established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community.
Representing the best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact, 32 players are selected as their team’s Man of the Year and become eligible to win the national award.
The Washington Football Team nominee for 2020 is Jonathan Allen.
Recognizing excellence on and off the field.— NFL (@NFL) December 10, 2020
The 32 nominiees for the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by @Nationwide! #WPMOY #ItTakesAllOfUs
Learn more at https://t.co/R9P2JLG5cM pic.twitter.com/8cnskiRJfc
Allen was drafted by Washington 17th overall in the 2017 draft out of Alabama; in his four years with the team, he has been a force on the field and a leader in the locker room, as well as being active in the local community.
Though Jonathan Allen played collegiately at Alabama, the state in which he was born, he grew up just 10 minutes from the Redskins facility in Loudon County, Va., and was raised to root for the Redskins. However, in his youth, Allen faced some tough times along with his family.
When divorce split his biological parents and military obligations sent his father overseas, Allen and his brother, Richard III, found themselves in the care of their mother. After moving from hotel to hotel and missing countless days of school, the brothers were placed in foster care.
This season, in Week 13, players across the league participated in My Cause, My Cleats, which allows players and others connected to the NFL to support specific social causes by raising both awareness and money by wearing custom-designed cleats during the game.
Jonathan Allen chose to support Sasha Bruce Youthwork.
Washington Football Team defensive lineman Jonathan Allen said one word about what it was like living in a homeless shelter: tough.
The experience had a lasting effect on Allen, who grew up in Ashburn, Virginia. And he knew that as soon as he had the opportunity, he would do whatever he could to help youths who are in a similar situation.
That’s why Allen has used his platform as an NFL player to become such a strong advocate for homeless children. During Monday’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, that support will be on full display with Allen’s cleats honoring Sasha Bruce Youthwork through the NFL’s “My Cause, My Cleats” campaign.
“I want to be a positive example that they can follow and see that it’s not impossible to come out of this situation and be successful,” Allen said.
Allen’s affiliation with Sasha Bruce Youthwork extends beyond this season. With help of Microsoft and Papa John’s, Allen and his wife, Hannah, unveiled an innovation lounge at The Bruce House in Northeast Washington D.C. last year that helps kids interact with one another and engage in schoolwork and employment readiness skills.
“I came here on a tour and I figured out that this is definitely the place I wanted to help,” Allen said. “So my agency came up with the technology center idea and I loved it.”
The lounge was filled with laptops, televisions and video game consoles to fulfill Allen’s goal of giving kids at Sasha Bruce Youthwork the tools to succeed. Jonathan and Hannah also announced a $45,000 challenge gift match in support of the Sasha Bruce Rapid Response Fund to encourage others to give back to homeless youth.
In addition to the Allen family’s donation, the Washington Football Charitable Foundation donated $10,000 to the cause.
This year, Allen graciously donated Thanksgiving meals for 85 Sasha Bruce families and sponsored the holiday wish lists for all of children staying at the Bruce House emergency shelter.
“Anything I can do to help these kids out and give back,” Allen said.
“I just feel like it gives them hope,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, that’s all you can give somebody. If there’s no goal, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel for kids to see, that’s the hardest thing. So I just wanted to be that spark of inspiration and hope, whatever it may be.”
I am incredibly honored to receive the Walter Payton Man of the Year nomination for @WashingtonNFL. I am empowered by this opportunity to expand even further in how my wife and I give back to the community I love. Thank you again, we are just getting started! #WPMOY pic.twitter.com/Wfhq5cGd4t— Jonathan Allen (@jonallen93_) December 10, 2020
If you are interested in buying Allen’s cleats and supporting Sasha Bruce Youthwork, . You can bid for them HERE.
The winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award each year sees $250,000 donated to the winner’s charity of choice. All other 31 nominees receive up to $50,000 donated to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.