Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who raised more than $37 million in just 19 days for those affected by Hurricane Harvey, won the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award on Saturday night.
Watt was announced as the winner of the award, given to an NFL player who has “a significant positive impact on his community,” at the NFL Honors event in Minneapolis, where Super Bowl LII will be played Sunday.
“I’ve been fortunate to be on this stage and to win Defensive Player of the Year awards, but everything that you do on the field pales in comparison to what you do off the field,” Watt said. “And at the end of my life, if I’m remembered as a football player and a good football player and that’s all I’m remembered for, then I did a poor job in my life. When I go to my grave I want to be remembered as a guy who helped people out and who tried to do as much as he could off the field to be the best man he could be. I’m trying to make my family proud and my fans proud, and go out there and just be the best person I can be and leave the world a little bit better.”
The other two finalists for the award were Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen and Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson.
Olsen launched plans for a one-of-a-kind, cardiac neurodevelopmental center in Charlotte, North Carolina, through his “HEARTest Yard” initiative, while Watson led a campaign to battle human trafficking and violence against the poor.
After Harvey hit Houston in August, Watt set up an online fundraiser with the original goal of raising $200,000. However, his videos on social media went viral. Many celebrities and prominent NFL figures made donations to the cause, including Tennessee Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk, who donated $1 million.
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SOURCE: ESPN, Sarah Barshop