Packers offensive lineman Marco Rivera, a longtime exemplary performer both on and off the field, was selected as the Packers' 2004 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
As the Packers' winner of the award, Rivera will receive a $1,000 donation to the Marco Rivera Outreach Foundation and is nominated for the 2004 title of NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, to be selected from 32 NFL players.
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.
The winner is selected by an elite panel of judges including NFL Commissioner PAUL TAGLIABUE, Sports Illustrated writer PETER KING, CONNIE PAYTON (wife of the late Walter Payton), and former players FRANK GIFFORD, JACK KEMP, ANTHONY MUNOZ, and last year's award winner, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS guard WILL SHIELDS.
The winner will receive $25,000 to donate to his selected charity.
The 2004 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner will be announced during a Super Bowl press conference, Feb. 4 in Jacksonville, Florida.
On the field, Rivera is an ironman, currently enjoying a consecutive-starts treak that has reached 96 contests. He's a two-time Pro Bowl selection and in 2003 was a second-team All-Pro selection of the Associated Press and Football Digest as well as being named to the All-NFC team of Pro Football Weekly.
Off the field, Rivera founded the Marco Rivera Outreach Foundation in April 2002, the organization impacting thousands of people in Brown County, Wis., and Puerto Rico. The foundation has benefited the Bay Area Humane Society, Bay Port Athletic Booster Club, YMCA's Partners in Youth campaign, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Cerebral Palsy Center, Family Violence Center, American Red Cross and an elementary school student suffering from a life-threatening illness.
Before the Marco Rivera Outreach Foundation was founded, Rivera used his own funds to take current and past teammates to Puerto Rico and conducted youth football camps free of charge to hundreds of participants, ages 8-16, during the 1998, 2000 and 2001 off-seasons. In 2002 and 2003, the week-long visit to Puerto Rico expanded to include various fundraising events to benefit the pee wee football program. The group also visited hundreds of children at San Jorge Children's Hospital and provided a monetary donation. Centro Medico in San Juan also received a visit from the players.
Rivera also has given time to the Packers Women's Association, the Boys & Girls Club, the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Read Across America, Fit Kids, UW-Green Bay Steak Fry, American Red Cross, the Family Violence Center, the Packerland Ride benefiting the Muscular Dystrophy Association, Prevent Blindness Wisconsin and The Jerry Parins Cruise for Cancer.
Additionally, as part of the NFL-USO trip to the Middle East in June of 2004, Rivera joined Fox Sports analyst Brian Baldinger to visit with U.S. troops in Qatar and Kuwait. In May of 2002, Rivera served as one of five NFL player representatives who attended a White House Cinco de Mayo celebration as a guest of President George W. Bush.
Past Packers winners of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year include: 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.
2004 WALTER PAYTON MAN OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
Arizona Cardinals, Anquan Boldin, WR
Atlanta Falcons, Warrick Dunn, RB
Baltimore Ravens, Ray Lewis, LB
Buffalo Bills, Drew Bledsoe, QB
Carolina Panthers, Steve Smith, WR
Chicago Bears, John Tait, T
Cincinnati Bengals, Willie Anderson, T
Cleveland Browns, Kenard Lang, DE
Dallas Cowboys, Roy Williams, S
Denver Broncos, Rod Smith, WR
Detroit Lions, Fernando Bryant, CB
Green Bay Packers, Marco Rivera, G
Houston Texans, Jay Foreman, LB
Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning, QB
Jacksonville Jaguars, Joe Zelenka, TE
Kansas City Chiefs, Trent Green, QB
Miami Dolphins, Shawn Wooden, DB
Minnesota Vikings, Matt Birk, C
New England Patriots, Troy Brown, WR
New Orleans Saints, Aaron Brooks, QB
New York Giants, Kurt Warner, QB
New York Jets, Kareem McKenzie, T
Oakland Raiders, Roland Williams, TE
Philadelphia Eagles, David Akers, K
Pittsburgh Steelers, Duce Staley, RB
St. Louis Rams, Torry Holt, WR
San Diego Chargers, LaDainian Tomlinson, RB
San Francisco 49ers, Bryant Young, DT
Seattle Seahawks, Mack Strong, FB
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Shelton Quarles, LB
Tennessee Titans, Kevin Carter, DT
Washington Redskins, Chris Cooley, TE