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Craig Robertson honored as Browns' Walter Payton Man of the Year


Take a scroll down Craig Robertson's Twitter page. You'll probably need a few minutes if you want to get a full scope of where he's been and where he's going next.

Click on one picture and you'll see the fourth-year linebacker with an ear-to-ear grin as he sits in Phil Taylor's automatic cart at "Shop with a Jock," a recent event for disadvantaged youths. Click on another, and it's Robertson surrounded by middle school kids at Rocky River Middle School for the Browns' latest #give10 event.

There are two constants when it comes to the Browns' daily charitable endeavors: Robertson and his trademark smile.

Robertson was named Thursday as the Browns' Walter Payton Man of the Year, an annual honor presented to one member of each of the NFL's 32 teams, highlighting players' community service and playing excellence. On top of his daily contributions to the Cleveland area through a variety of charity work, Robertson is third on the team with 72 tackles, piling up a whopping 32 in his last three games as he's filled in for an injured Karlos Dansby at Mike linebacker.

"This award means a lot," Robertson said. "I just like doing community stuff because I like doing it. Not really for the awards. The awards are extra and fun but I really like focusing my attention on the community."

A Brown since he signed with the practice squad for the final two weeks of 2011, Robertson is in the midst of his best NFL season. Undrafted out of North Texas, he's been a key cog in a Browns defense that has played its best football over the past month despite losing a number of key players to injuries.

Robertson's considered a "spark plug" in the locker room because of his veteran savvy, commanding voice and quick wit. Defensive coordinator Jim O'Neil used the same descriptor for Robertson's commitment to the Browns' array of charitable platforms.

"It started in college but we didn't have that platform. You weren't that big of a name in college," Robertson said. "When I got here, even as an undrafted guy, you're out in the community and it didn't matter. You had the Browns name on you and so you were someone to look up to. I kind of just use that as my platform and just try to help everyone I could."

The list of Robertson's off-field contributions goes on and on. Since he arrived three seasons ago, they've increased at the same rate as his tackles.

One of the main faces in the Browns' First and Ten initiative, which encourages fans to #give10 by volunteering at least 10 hours in the community, Robertson is also a key figure in the team's PLAY 60 movement. He's helped built playgrounds through Hometown Huddle in partnership with United Way. Robertson's also a regular visitor at University Hospitals, where he meets with patients young and old to offer his support and pass on his smile.

Among Robertson's other contributions is his regular work with the Cleveland Browns Foundation that sends him to a handful of early learning facilities. He's also logged a number of days and hours with U.S. servicemen and servicewomen, including work with Gold Star Families, USO of Northern Ohio and the Wounded Warriors Project.

On Tuesday, the Browns' only off day between their loss Sunday against Indianapolis to this week's regular season home finale vs. Cincinnati, Robertson made a surprise appearance at a local Speedway gas station to serve free coffee and hot chocolate.

"I just like doing community stuff because I like doing it," Robertson said. "It's not really for the awards. The awards are extra and fun but I really like focusing my attention on the community."

The NFL will provide $1,000 to Robertson's charity of choice. Three finalists from around the NFL will be honored during the week of Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona and the 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be presented Jan. 31 during the NFL Honors awards ceremony.

Robertson learned of the honor Thursday before the Browns' walk-through. He said was briefly in shock to join teammates Jabaal Sheard and Joe Thomas on a list of Browns award-winners that dates back to 1999.

"Those are great guys who are always doing stuff with the community, but at the same time good guys on the field," Robertson said. "It's a huge thing for me."

Robertson will be recognized before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals, his 44th as a Brown.

"We are always focused on identifying and adding individuals like Craig to our team who are not only prepared to succeed personally but also able to raise their teammates' dedication and contributions," Browns General Manager Ray Farmer said. "Craig repeatedly displays those 'Play Like a Brown' characteristics to improve our football team and our community, which makes him deserving of this honor."

Cleveland Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year award winners:

1999 OG Jim Pyne

2000 LB Jamir Miller

2001 LB Wali Rainer

2002 RB Jamel White

2003 QB Kelly Holcomb

2004 DE Kenard Lang

2005 QB Trent Dilfer

2006 QB Charlie Frye

2007 WR Braylon Edwards

2008 K Phil Dawson

2009 WR Mike Furrey*

2010 OL Joe Thomas

2011 WR Joshua Cribbs

2012 OL Joe Thomas*

2013 LB Jabaal Sheard

2014 LB Craig Robertson

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