FRISCO, TEXAS – The Cowboys announced Jaylon Smith as its nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Award presented by Nationwide.
Considered the league's most prestigious honor, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced today.
Despite the challenges created by Covid-19 in 2020, Smith has continued to work hard both on and off the football field to be a positive role model for his teammates and others in North Texas and in his home state of Indiana. Since joining the Dallas Cowboys as a second-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Smith has been a staple participant in team community outreach efforts. Even as a rookie, unable to see action on the field due to his Injured Reserve / NFI status, Smith kept busy helping others.
Smith's pursuit of his personal business ventures exposed him to the need for investment into the minority entrepreneurial community. His drive to give others the same opportunity to financially succeed and see their business dreams become a reality drove him to launch the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute in partnership with RISE Sports Advisors and the Sagamore Institute.
Smith has pledged $2.5 million over 10 years to spur MEI investments and is adding co-investors across the country who share in his beliefs. His hope is that minority entrepreneurs will be the game-changers who can make a changing economy come to life.
"It is an honor to be nominated by the Dallas Cowboys for this prestigious award," Smith said. "To be named in the same breath as NFL Legends like Walter Payton for the good work that we, as professional athletes, can use our platform for is humbling and it only encourages me to work harder to lift those up around me. MEI is my purpose beyond athletics, and I am excited that this award will help fuel our vision."
"The Dallas Cowboys are proud to name Jaylon Smith as our 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year candidate," said Charlotte Jones, Dallas Cowboys Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer. "Jaylon exemplifies every quality that this award celebrates. He has a light that he wants to share and shine on others that is rare. We are excited to see what more he can accomplish through his work with minority entrepreneurs and the many other endeavors that he supports."
As a nominee, Smith will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the third year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LV. The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the week of Super Bowl LV, on CBS.
All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 6th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 10 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
New this year, fans can win NFL Shop gift cards and additional money for their favorite nominee's charity. Each Monday during the #WPMOYChallenge, Nationwide will ask fans to respond on Twitter with their favorite nominee and one randomly selected fan each week will win a $100 NFL Shop gift card and $2,500 for their favorite nominee's charity.
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.