Alameda, CA – December 12, 2019 – The Oakland Raiders announced today Tahir Whitehead as its nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Awardpresented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced today.
As a nominee, Whitehead 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. Whitehead is in his second season with the Raiders after spending his first six years with the Detroit Lions (2012-17) and leads the Raiders in tackles so far in 2019.
This season, Whitehead participated in the team's Crucial Catch initiative, interacting with survivors and their families during a chocolate making workshop. For the second straight year, Whitehead led a group of Raiders in a visit to UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland to help deliver toys for the holiday season and made bedside visits to see patients. To support homeless vets, Whitehead hosted a 5K run/walk the week of Veterans Day around Oakland's Lake Merritt, with all proceeds going to the Back on My Feet Foundation. He is also partnering with the Fam 1st Family Foundation to take underprivileged kids on a holiday shopping spree.
Last offseason, Whitehead's random act of kindness earned him a fan for life following an encounter with a member of the military on the road. U.S. Army Sergeant David Marquez was headed home from his reserve training when he suffered a flat tire. Marquez watched car after car drive by, unwilling to offer their services. However, one car did. When asked why he stopped to help Marquez, Whitehead stated, "It was the right thing to do."
Whitehead represented the Raiders at a series of NFL events in London this July, including NFL Flag Football Academy Final Trials at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, where he mentored young football players and interacted with youth during the London-NFL UK Flag Football Championship. Whitehead also led Oakland elementary school students through flag football drills and games to encourage the PLAY 60 message of being active for 60 minutes every day and interacted with youth flag teams at the Silicon Valley Flag Football Tournament.
For the past five years, Whitehead has hosted a youth football camp in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey and has covered the fees for all the attendees. For the past two seasons, he has also sponsored a back-to-school book bag drive for local youth in his community. Whitehead is so revered and respected in hometown and his community that that he was given the key to Newark during a ceremony last year. Whitehead, who had only one football scholarship offer, also had his jersey retired at his alma mater, West Side High School. During the ceremony, Whitehead stated, "I'll never forget the people that helped me."
Early in his NFL career while a member of the Lions, Whitehead volunteered with the Downtown (Detroit) Boxing Gym Youth Program, which, in addition to boxing instruction, offers kids, ages 7 to 18 tutors, computer lab and music studio access. Whitehead oftentimes brought his family to the gym as he was not only engaged with youth in athletic activities, but also served as a mentor and positive influence.
For the second year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV.
The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. NFL Honors will be at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami.
All 32 nominees will receive a donation of up to $50,000 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.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 5th 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. 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, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.
More information about the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award can be found at http://www.nfl.com/manoftheyear.