An emotionally satisfying season continues for Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, whose on-field success of setting a league record for catches by a tight end and making the Pro Bowl for an eighth time might only be surpassed by winning the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Witten is one of three finalists for the Walter Payton award, considered the league's Nobel Peace prize, as it honors a player's community activism as well as on-field success. The other finalists are Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald and Cleveland's Joe Thomas. The winner will be announced today.
"Walter Payton epitomized what the NFL shield is all about," Witten said. "He was sweetness on the field. He was a better man off the field. This is an award where everybody is a winner. So many players do it the right way on and off the field. Just to be mentioned is very humbling."
The Cowboys have had two winners in the 43-year history of the award: Roger Staubach won it in 1978 and Troy Aikman in 1997.
Witten also was a finalist in 2007 when Jason Taylor won the award.
Symmetrically, Witten's record-setting performance on the field in 2012 and distinguished work in the community were initially rooted in adversity.
He suffered a lacerated spleen in training camp and had more drops than catches in the first three games before rebounding with a historic season.
His experience with domestic violence as a child served as the basis behind his immense charitable work in the community that has him up for the Walter Payton Award.
Jason Witten's charitable spirit rooted in early adversity
Fort Worth Star-Telegram | Feb 2