Browns announce their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

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CLEVELAND, Ohio — Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. thought his buddy Greg Newsome II and the social media team were bothering him with a Thanksgiving question.

Instead of asking about side dishes or traditions though, Newsome had some breaking news the fellow Northwestern grad.

“How does it feel to be the 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee?” Newsome asked in the video posted by the Browns. Walker was then mobbed by teammates.

The honor is one of the league’s most prestigious, and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and off the field through their community involvement.

All 32 nominees from each team will be recognized for their achievements during Super Bowl week. The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special that will air on CBS, Thursday, Feb. 8.

Each nominee will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are made possible by the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

“I’m extremely honored to be the Browns Nominee for this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and so thankful for how the Cleveland community has embraced me since joining the team in 2021,” Walker said in a release. “This is an award that as a kid you heard people say is a very prestigious award. I’m thankful for the entire Cleveland Browns organization for this nomination. I’m thankful to my family for instilling in me great principles of faith, education and football.

“My father being an educator and football coach really shaped me into the man that I am. I pride myself on giving back to my communities with an emphasis on youth education, as well as being a great teammate. I’m very humbled to be the Cleveland Browns Walter Payton Man of The Year recipient.”

Education is a cause close to Walker’s heart, as his father is an educator and football coach at Monsignor Pace High School in Miami.

Walker has been with the Browns since 2021, and has been a team captain for the past two seasons. He’s been heavily involved with the organization’s Stay in the Game! Attendance Network, which encourages students to stay in school and aims to decrease chronic absenteeism. The cause was featured on his cleats this past weekend for My Cause, My Cleats. Ahead of the game, he visited a local elementary school where 15 students had the opportunity to help design his cleats.

As the first-ever Stay in the Game! Attendance Network ambassador, Walker has become the face of the program. Walker works with the Browns’ Foundation team on promotional videos for school attendance and participates in most of the Stay in the Game! school visits.

Walker also hosted his own back to school event in September at Shaker Heights Middle School, where he provided backpacks, school supplies and ice cream for 100 students. Thanksgiving week, Walker hosted a Turkey Bowl Classic for kids and families from the East Cleveland City Schools District at the Browns facility. The kids were invited to participate based on their good attendance, and played in a flag football tournament and enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal.

The linebacker is also passionate about social justice, serving as a judge on the panel for two of the Browns JumpStart Small Business Impact Showcases. In the Browns’ second year of partnership with JumpStart, the team has highlighted small, minority and black-owned businesses in a shark tank-style competition for funding.

“Since joining the Cleveland Browns, Anthony Walker has inspired others through his hard work and leadership both on and off the field,” said Dee and Jimmy Haslam, in a release. “Anthony has put in a tremendous amount of time giving back to the Cleveland community and is establishing an incredible legacy for himself. We’re extremely proud to name him our 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee.”

As the team’s nominee, Walker will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season.

This year, fans are once again encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s annual Charity Challenge, a social media and online contest that allows fans to show support for their favorite Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Fans can vote on X, formerly known as Twitter, by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with the name/X handle of their chosen nominee or by voting directly on

The nominee who receives the most collective hashtag mentions and votes will win an additional $35,000 donation from Nationwide to the charity of their choice, with the runner-up receiving $10,000 and the third-place winner receiving $5,000. Charity Challenge voting takes place from Dec. 5th to Jan. 8th.

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