GREEN BAY – Packers center Corey Linsley has been chosen as the team's 2020 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award.
The annual award, considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, recognizes NFL players who have not only exhibited excellence on-the-field, but whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game and has led them to leave a positive legacy in their communities.
For the third year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the week leading up to Super Bowl LV. The 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally the week of Super Bowl LV on CBS.
All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Linsley and his wife Anna have been active in the Greater Green Bay community since he was drafted by the Packers in 2014. The two have had a long-standing partnership with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Brown County, which provides abused and neglected children who are under the legal protection of the court system a representative to act on their behalf.
"Unfortunately, a lot of the times these kids, the people who come in and out of their lives, some of them are trustworthy and some of them are not, a lot of them are not, and they have a trust issue," Linsley said.
"That's something you have to break through and open yourself up and open your heart up and understand these kids, where they're coming from, their background and everything. Once you get past that and they gain that trust with you, the bond that you make is awesome."
The Linsleys also have helped direct donations to CASA from the Packers and the NFL social justice initiative, totaling $100,000 in the last two years, and they have served as state spokespeople for Wisconsin CASA, attending special events and appearing in PSAs and advertisements.
Their vision is for every child to feel safe and secure in their home and heart. According to Kristin Jacobs, the Executive Director CASA of Brown County, 145 volunteers advocated on behalf of 281 children in Brown County last year. The Linsleys have served as volunteer advocates for three children.
"You're hanging out with the child or children," Linsley said. "My wife's had two cases and I've been on one with her. So we basically go into their home, or in the school or an after-school program and do arts and crafts, play sports with them, talk with them and just make sure they're doing all right."
Linsley has also demonstrated his commitment to the community by raising funds for the family of his “bike kid,” Travis Kohlbeck, when the Kohlbeck family faced various health challenges.
Linsley spends time giving back in a variety of other ways, including helping to host a Play 60 event for students with special needs at Syble Hopp School in De Pere and taking part in numerous Packers Give Back programs and events. He has also been a major participant in the Packers Give Back Celebrity Bowling Event that has helped raise money for Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and CASA, and he often lends a hand to help teammates with their fundraisers.
All 2020 nominees will wear a Man of the Year helmet decal beginning Week 14 and continuing through the end of the season in recognition of their accomplishments on and off the field.
Linsley, now in his seventh NFL season, is the first offensive player to be honored as the Packers' nominee for the annual award since Aaron Rodgers, an eventual finalist, in 2014. Other nominees include Blake Martinez (2019), Kenny Clark (2018), Clay Matthews (2017), Jayrone Elliott (2016) and Sam Barrington (2015).
"I'm just happy that my wife and I are fortunate enough to be in this position where we can have an impact on the community," Linsley said. "There are lot of guys who have done a lot of great things in the community here over a number of years. The example has kind of been set and Anna and I, we're very thankful and I'm happy to accept this (nomination) and hopefully we can keep on making a positive impact."
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 6th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can 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. 10 and Jan. 17 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, all courtesy of Nationwide.
Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear. New this year, fans can win NFL Shop gift cards and additional money for their favorite nominee's charity. Each Monday during the #WPMOYChallenge, Nationwide will ask fans to respond on Twitter with their favorite nominee and one randomly selected fan each week will win a $100 NFL Shop gift card and $2,500 for their favorite nominee's charity.