The news came Thursday morning, and Jarvis Landry was still at a loss of words a few hours later.
Shortly before 9 a.m., the veteran Browns wide receiver learned he was the team's 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year. When he fielded a question about the honor after Thursday's practice, Landry called it "amazing" and "a great feeling" before pausing for a second.
"Just thinking about it, just thinking about my career," Landry said, "I think this by far is one of the biggest, best things I could be up for with an opportunity to win."
Landry's sixth season has featured a little bit of everything. Individually, it's been one of his best.
He's 5 yards shy of 1,000 yards, a total that's already better than what he posted in each of his previous two seasons. He leads the Browns with five receiving touchdowns and, perhaps most importantly, is averaging 14.4 yards per catch -- a full 2.3 yards better than any of his past seasons. Along the way, he caught the 500th pass of his career on a trick play pass from his close friend Odell Beckham Jr. and set the NFL record for most receptions for a player in his first six seasons (550 and counting).
Those numbers have meant little to Landry, a team-first leader who was far more delighted by the number four -- as in the number of wins Cleveland has rattled off in its last five games -- than the five that separate him from the third 1,000-yard season of his career.
"It's whatever. I think for me, honestly 1,000 yards is something that I planned on touching every year, even in the past two years that I could have easily had," Landry said. "The wins come, that is all I care about."
Off the field, Landry has been just as busy and productive. It's what set him apart as the team's choice for the honor.
He was a co-chair and emcee for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank's Taste of the Browns, which raised more than $350,000 and the equivalent of 1.4 million meals for Northeast Ohio families in need. He continued his passion for fighting Cystic Fibrosis, a debilitating illness that ultimately ended the life of one of his close friends. e has recently represented the Browns in celebrating the installment of high-quality synthetic turf fields at both Lorain High School and Boys Hope-Girls Hope of Northeastern Ohio, as well as helping surprise Berea Midpark High School this past offseason with $25,000 of new helmets through the Browns' HELMETS program. This past summer, he also hosted the Fifth Annual Jarvis Landry Giveback Event at his alma mater, Lutcher High School, where nearly 150 youth were experienced a day of football, private workout sessions, inspirational messages and mentorship opportunities.
"It just came from this platform - the platform that I have, the things that I am very passionate about and growing up," Landry said. "I never really had somebody that was around or in my neighborhood. All that really came back and I can say that helped me or helped my neighborhood or my community. I think that I have been trying to do in every place that I have been. From being in Baton Rouge in college to going to Miami and now to being here in Cleveland."
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Cardinals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
Even though Cleveland's season hasn't gone as many hoped, Landry has remained a leader throughout it. He was famously caught on camera telling teammates to "lead, lead, lead even when it hurts" after the Browns' disappointing season opening loss to the Titans.
That style has resonated with players inside the locker room and the coaches who work closest with him.
"That is a tremendous honor," Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. "To represent anything with Walter Payton's name on it is unbelievable. Jarvis does a good job off the field, on the field, in the classroom; he continues to be a leader, vocal leader and that is what we need from him.
"Once we get to the field, he is a pretty good player, so I have been really happy with his progress from year one to year, too. Off the field, he has a passion for life, a passion for young people and kids and a very good guy."