The Dallas Cowboys have struggled mightily in 2020 with a 3-9 record. One of its highest-paid players, linebacker Jaylon Smith, hasn’t had the best season either, and he’s often been ridiculed for not living up to his five-year, $64 million dollar contract extension he signed last August.
The former second-round pick received an amazing honor on Thursday, however, when he was announced as one of the 32 players nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award because of his continuous community efforts off the field.
Inspiring change to make a difference.
The #DallasCowboys are proud to announce Jaylon Smith as our 2020 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by @nationwide#WPMOYChallenge + @thejaylonsmith pic.twitter.com/L8G3vgbpv9
— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) December 10, 2020
Smith was honored to receive the nomination.
“It is an honor to be nominated by the Dallas Cowboys for this prestigious award,” Smith said. “To be named in the same breath as NFL Legends like Walter Payton for the good work that we, as professional athletes, can use our platform for is humbling and it only encourages me to work harder to lift those up around me. MEI is my purpose beyond athletics, and I am excited that this award will help fuel our vision.”
Smith founded the Minority Entrepreneurship Institute in 2019 to provide funding and mentorship and to close the economic and educational gap in minority communities. He’s pledged $2.5 million over 10 years to assist MEI investments in making his vision a reality.
“Jaylon exemplifies every quality that this award celebrates,” Cowboys executive vice president and chief brand officer Charlotte Jones Anderson said, via the team’s website. “He has a light that he wants to share and shine on others that is rare. We are excited to see what more he can accomplish through his work with minority entrepreneurs and the many other endeavors that he supports.”
Smith will wear a special decal on his helmet for the rest of the season to recognize his nomination. The winner will receive a donation of $250,000 to a charity of their choice. The other 31 nominees will get a donation as well but in the amount of $40,000, with all donations coming courtesy of the NFL Foundation and the award’s cooperate sponsor Nationwide.
All 32 nominees will be recognized during the week leading up to Super Bowl LV. The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony which will air on CBS. Whoever is selected as the winner will wear a patch on his jersey for the rest of his career to commemorate the honor.
If Smith is announced as the winner it won’t be the first time a Dallas Cowboy has received the award. Roger Staubach was named the NFL Man of the Year in 1978, Troy Aikman in 1997, and Jason Witten in 2012.
Fans can vote via Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name. The player whose hashtag is used the most between December 10 and January 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice. The second and third-place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations.
This is quite the honor for Smith and one that he should be very proud of.
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