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Bruce Irvin Discusses Walter Payton NFL Man Of The Year Award Nomination

Posted Dec 14, 2017

For all of his charitable efforts, Bruce Irvin is the Oakland Raiders 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.

Bruce Irvin finds out his news just like you, by checking social media.

The sixth-year linebacker knew there was a chance he could be the Oakland Raiders Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide nominee, but he wasn’t sure until he saw the news on his phone.

“I was actually at home, and I just refreshed Twitter, and I saw that the Raiders had posted it, so that’s how I found out,” Irvin explained.

From there, a bevy of emotions surfaced; pride, gratitude, appreciation, but at the end of the day, as rewarding as the nomination was, winning a trophy isn’t the reason for Irvin’s community involvement.

“My goal wasn’t to win man of the year,” Irvin said. “My goal was to get out and make a difference.”

And make a difference is precisely what he has done, and why he’s one of 32 nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, an award that “recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.”

In 2017 he hosted the third annual Bruce Irvin Football Clinic, attended multiple teammates youth camps, and was a fixture at Raiders community events, ranging from volunteering at the Alameda County Community Food Bank’s Mobile Pantry, to visiting patients at the Oakland UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

As active as he’s been in the community since joining the Silver and Black, his activism reached another level in late September, following the Raiders primetime matchup against the Washington Redskins.

The league-wide protests that weekend not only left an impression on the versatile linebacker, but they forced him to ask himself some tough questions regarding his community service, and his reasons behind it.

“I really, really got into this community stuff after the Washington game, after all that kneeling for the anthem stuff,” Irvin explained. “I said to myself, am I out here just doing it to just to do it, or am I really out here in the community trying to make a difference? I had to ask myself, and be honest with myself, and that’s what I started trying to get more active, and be in the community, and just really try to make a difference.”

“I just had an honest conversation with myself,” he continued. “I felt like I didn’t want to just do it to do it. I wanted to do it, and be able to get out here, and really try to make a difference in the community, really try to bring change, and make people happy, and just be a blessing to other people. That was my main objective.”

Each of the 32 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees aligns themselves with a charity of their choosing, and for the Atlanta-native, he picked an organization that was close to home, literally, in the Atlanta Children’s Shelter.

“I grew up there, so I see the poverty, I see people living in tents downtown,” Irvin said. “I see the kids living on the streets, so I just wanted to give back [to] where I’m from. Like I said, coming up, I saw a lot of people, and to be honest, my people, African Americans, and so I just wanted to give back to my community, and where I was from.”

In addition to Irvin’s work off the field, No. 51 has been putting work in on the field too, the past few weeks especially.

In the past three weeks, he’s totaled five sacks, and with 7.5 sacks on the year, he’s just a half sack shy of tying his career high.

The 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be announced February 3 during NFL Honors, and while Irvin is adamant that his service is not for show or for public praise, gaining the recognition of his peers for his work off the field would certainly be a rewarding accolade.

“It would definitely mean a lot that people recognize what I’m doing, that I’m taking time out to go out there, and just try to bless people, but at the end of the day, like I said, I don’t do it to win the award, I do it out of the kindness of my heart,” Irvin said. “I do it because I was put in the position to bless others, and not only to better my life, but to bless other people. That’s the reason why I do it, but if I so happen to win it, it would be great.”

To vote for Bruce, use the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge Irvin on social media.

To learn more about his nomination, visit NFL.com/manoftheyear.