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Bubba Franks Selected As Packers' 'Walter Payton Man Of The Year'


Packers tight end Bubba Franks, a longtime exemplary performer both on and off the field, was selected as the Packers' 2006 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

As the Packers' winner of the award, Franks will direct a $1,000 donation to the Salvation Army and is nominated for the league-wide award to be selected from 32 NFL players. The overall NFL winner will be chosen by a blue ribbon panel in December and recognized at a press conference during Super Bowl week in South Florida. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation to the 501(c)3 organization of his choice.

In his seventh season as the team's starting tight end, Franks is a consistent offensive threat who has established himself as one of the top tight ends in Packers history. Combining excellent hands with outstanding blocking ability, he's a key contributor in both the Packers' passing and running games. Until suffering an injury in 2005, Franks had not missed a game during either his pro or college career, spanning nine seasons. He entered 2006 ranked second among all-time Packers tight ends in catches and touchdowns, and has since reached 2,000 receiving yards in his career. He was a Pro Bowl pick for three consecutive years (2001-03).

Off the field, Franks has been a strong, consistent supporter of the Salvation Army, acting as a spokesperson for the organization on multiple occasions. In addition to taping several commercials encouraging people to volunteer as bell ringers as well as to donate to the Salvation Army during their annual Red Kettle campaign, he often dons the red apron himself and rings the bell. He has participated in bell-ringing contests against Detroit's Marcus Pollard and former Minnesota tight end Byron Chamberlain, and was victorious in raising the most funds on both occasions.

Franks has contributed his time and talents to various other organizations and individuals throughout the state of Wisconsin and beyond. He spent evenings in December 2002 and 2003 with cancer patients at Green Bay's St. Vincent Hospital, reading Christmas stories and handing out gifts. In 2002, Franks spent roughly $5,000 to buy championship rings for the Miami Edison High School girls basketball team; the inner city school, which captured its second straight Class 6A state title in 2002, had gone without rings following its initial championship the prior year. He was "recruited" to purchase the rings by Kiejon Johnson, a forward on the Edison team and the daughter of his collegiate position coach, Curtis Johnson.

In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Franks helped to raise money for the American Red Cross relief effort by signing autographs at an area mall. He has supported the fundraising efforts of his fellow players and coaches, regularly participating in the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation's Celebrity Softball Game, and Edgar Bennett's Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon. This past summer, Franks took part in the four-day, four-city Green Bay Packers Tailgate Tour, a trip designed for the team to literally reach out across the state and thank fans in person for their enduring and enthusiastic support of the club through the years. The tour made planned and surprise stops en route to each day's final destination, a tailgate party hosted by and benefiting a local non-profit organization. On the tour, Franks met with fans, young and old, throughout Milwaukee, Madison, La Crosse and Wausau.

{sportsad300}The Man of the Year honor is the only league award that recognizes player off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence. This year's finalists - one player from each NFL team - have demonstrated an outstanding balance between civic and professional responsibilities in their lives this season.

The prestigious award was renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970.

Past Packers winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year include: Tony Fisher, 2005; Marco Rivera, 2004; Aaron Kampman, 2003; Donald Driver, 2002; Santana Dotson, 2001; Brett Favre, 2000; LeRoy Butler, 1999; Robert Brooks, 1998; Brett Favre, 1997; Mark Chmura, 1996; Ty Detmer, 1995.

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