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The NFL will announce the winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award for community leadership during the fourth annual NFL Honors awards show, which airs on NBC Saturday, January 31 at 9p.m. ET/PT. This years finalists include Anquan Boldin of the San Francisco 49ers, Thomas Davis of the Carolina Panthers and Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers. The NFL Foundation and Nationwide will make a $50,000 donation on behalf of the winner to a charity of his choice, while the other two finalists will receive $10,000 donations to charities of their choice. Finalists for the award were chosen from among nominees from all 32 NFL teams. Each nominee will receive a $5,000 donation to a charity of his choice.
Learn more about the Walter Payton Man of the Year ward and the nominees
Anquan Boldin led the 49ers in 2014 with team-highs in receptions (83), receiving yards (1,062) and receiving touchdowns (5). He is the fourth player in 49er history with multiple seasons with 1,000 or more receiving yards, and the first to do so in each of his first two seasons with the team. Boldin and Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Jerry Rice are the only players in NFL history with at least 600 receiving yards in each of his first 12 seasons.
Boldin formed The Anquan Boldin Foundation in 2004 to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged youth. The Foundation hosts a summer enrichment program, conducts Thanksgiving food drives that provides 300 meals annually and sponsors holiday shopping sprees. The Foundation has awarded eleven four-year scholarships through its "Q81" Foundation Scholarship Fund. In 2014, it awarded $10,000 academic scholarships to four incoming college freshmen.
Boldin also has an international philanthropic reach and has been involved with Oxfam America since 2010, travelling to Ethiopia and Senegal. Boldin testified as an Oxfam Ambassador before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights on political concerns in Senegal involving creating more transparency in the gold mining industry.
Linebacker Thomas Davis started in 15 games in 2014 and recorded 100-tackles for the third consecutive season. The fourth-year team captain totaled 129 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 6 passes defended. Davis ranks 2nd all-time on the Panthers in tackles with 831.
In 2007, he and his wife Kelly founded the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation (TDDDF), a non-profit dedicated to providing and promoting free programs that enhance the quality of life for more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families annually. The foundation's cornerstone program, the Youth Leadership Academy, is a 14-week afterschool mentoring program for low-income middle school students. Davis provides two college scholarships each year for students who have completed the program. Davis and TDDDF also host a back-to-school supply giveaway, a Thanksgiving meal at a local women's shelter and a Christmas gift giveaway for underprivileged children.
Davis is active in the Panthers' PLAY 60 efforts and frequently visits the local children’s hospital. In June 2013, he led the construction of the first and only playground in his rural hometown of Shellman, Georgia. His annual free football camp teaches more than 350 children about football basics and life skills. In 2014, Davis received the Call to Courage Award, given annually to a Christian athlete who displays exemplary character through both adversity and triumph.
The NFL's all-time leader in career passer rating (106.0), Aaron Rodgers led the Packers to their franchise-record fourth consecutive NFC North title this year. He led the NFL this season in TD/INT ratio (7.60, 38/5), had the second best passer rating (112.2) and yards per attempt (8.43), was third in TD passes (38). Rodgers is the only quarterback in the league to finish in the top three in all four of those categories.
Rodgers commits his time and passion to numerous charitable organizations. His work with the Mid-West Athletes Against Childhood Cancer (MACC) Fund helped raise awareness and support for children with cancer and blood disorders and his personal efforts, campaigns and events have raised more than $1.5 million. He co-created www.itsaaron.com to help create awareness for people and organizations who are changing the world through their good deeds, and those whose lives have been deeply impacted by the work of non-profit organizations in Wisconsin.
“I have always felt that it is a responsibility to use your platform to make a difference in people's lives, and as professional athletes we have the opportunity to have a very wide reach in making an impact with the platform we have been given,” Rodgers said. “I have been fortunate enough to work with some amazing organizations that are doing some incredible work. I realize that my involvement can give those organizations a little help, but the work that they do stands alone, and I am just happy to stand next to them.”