GREEN BAY – Packers linebacker Blake Martinez has been chosen as the team's 2019 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
The annual award is one of the most prestigious in the league, recognizing one NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. From the league's 32 nominees, one winner will be announced during the NFL Honors ceremony on Super Bowl weekend.
Martinez, in his fourth NFL season out of Stanford, currently is second in the league with 129 tackles (79 solo, 50 assists) in addition to two sacks and a forced fumble. He's started 45 consecutive games at inside linebacker dating back to the Packers' 2017 regular-season opener against Seattle.
Since being drafted in the fourth round out of Stanford in 2016, Martinez has been active both in the Green Bay community and back home in Tucson, Ariz. Earlier this summer, he also was honored as the team's 2019 community service award recipient.
"One of the things I wanted to get into once I got my feet underneath me in the NFL was being able to help out anybody, whether it be kids, adults, high school, whomever," Martinez said. "To be a good role model, help out the less fortunate, and use my platform for the greater good. It's just a testament that doing the right things always ends up helping yourself and the other person out. This nomination gives me more and more motivation to keep doing what I'm doing."
Martinez's charitable and community involvement began during his time at Stanford, when he and his fellow teammates would volunteer at homeless shelters and visit children's hospitals and museums.
Packers LB Blake Martinez and defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Tyler Lancaster signed autographs at Lambeau Field Monday night in exchange for donations to the Salvation Army.
In Green Bay, Martinez has been involved extensively with Big Brothers Big Sisters, Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Salvation Army. He also participated in the Packers' annual Tailgate Tour in 2018 and the team's annual Give Back Celebrity Bowling Event, which raises money for the Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) Promise Scholarship and for the Wisconsin Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Association.
An avid gamer, Martinez donates to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for every 100 followers he gets on twitch.tv/packernation50 as well as 100 percent of the money he receives from subscriptions and ads. He played in the Fortnite Celebrity Pro-Am this past June in support of St. Jude, a cause close to his heart since his childhood friend, Richard Blau, passed away before his 15th birthday due to complications from osteosarcoma.
More recently, Martinez became a spokesperson for the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation, visited cadets at the Challenge Academy in Fort McCoy, Wis., and helped with a Play60 football camp at nearby Syble Hopp School.
"We just helped them catch footballs, do certain obstacle courses, asked questions, talked to them. We just had a blast," Martinez said. "It's those type of moments they don't typically get to do that. They don't get to take that time away and just be kids. It was cool to see them have that moment and … being able to see them have a smile on their face."
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, Packers LB Blake Martinez and K Mason Crosby helped kick off another year of Packers vs. Cancer.
As a nominee, Martinez will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Martinez is the fifth consecutive defensive player to be the Packers' annual Man of the Year nominee, following Kenny Clark in 2018, Clay Matthews in 2017, Jayrone Elliott in 2016 and Sam Barrington in 2015. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers was the team's nominee, and eventually a league finalist, in 2014.
Whoever is chosen Walter Payton Man of the Year will have $250,000 donated to a charity of his choice, while the other 31 nominees will have $50,000 to a charity of their choice.
"It just gives you more motivation to keep influencing and keep motivating the younger generation," Martinez said. "It's those small little interactions that can change a person's life. Whenever I have those moments, if I can go there and change one person's mentality or give one person motivation, it's going to be a positive interaction for me."
For the fifth year, each Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee will also take part in the Charity Challenge, a social media challenge that encourages fans to post on Twitter using a unique hashtag for each player. Fans are encouraged to vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations.