Today, Anthony Walker Jr. was announced as the Cleveland Browns nominee for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award Presented by Nationwide. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide is the league's most prestigious honor and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities.
Anthony Walker is currently in his third season with the Browns, serving as a team captain for the second season in a row. Walker was signed by the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in Mar. 2021 and he began making an impact in Northeast Ohio immediately, with his leadership in the community growing exponentially this year. The Browns focus on three community pillars: youth football, education and social justice. Walker's leadership continues off the field in the community where just this year he has volunteered at several community events and sometimes attends multiple per week. The Browns focus on three community pillars: youth football, education and social justice. Walker has spent the majority of his time and energy on his off days focusing on these pillars and impacting the community in these spaces.
As the first-ever Stay in the Game! Attendance Network ambassador, Walker is the face for the Browns Foundation's flagship program, which encourages students to stay in school while decreasing chronic absenteeism. Education is extremely important to Walker, as his father was both an educator and a football coach – instilling in him the importance of exceeding in both academics and athletics. In connection with the ambassador role, 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. Additionally, he supported Stay in the Game! through My Cause, My Cleats (MCMC) this season. Ahead of the game, he visited a local elementary school where 15 students had the opportunity to design his cleats. The designer incorporated the students' drawings and feedback to paint the shoes.
Leading into the holidays, Walker hosted a Turkey Bowl Classic for kids and families from the Stay in the Game! Network's East Cleveland City Schools District at the Browns facility the week of Thanksgiving. The kids were invited to participate based on their good attendance. They played in a flag football tournament and then enjoyed a Thanksgiving meal.
"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," said Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. "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."
Walker is also passionate about the social justice space, 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 stadium has hosted multiple Impact Showcases, highlighting 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, Cleveland Browns Managing and Principal Partners. "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 a nominee, Walker 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.
All 32 nominees will be recognized for their achievements during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII. The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally on CBS on 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.
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 Twitter) by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with the name/X handle of their chosen nominee or by voting directly on NFL.com/ManOfTheYear. 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.
For more information on the nominees and the award, please visit NFL.com/ManOfTheYear.