Who’s the Man of the Year? Could be Rivers, Birk or Tillman

INDIANAPOLIS — Philip Rivers, Matt Birk and Charles Tillman do good not only on the field but also off of it, sealing their places as finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

(from left) Philip Rivers, Charles Tillman and Matt Birk pose
with the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year trophy.
(David J. Phillip/Associated Press)

Rivers, the Chargers’ Pro Bowl QB, helps abused, neglected and abandoned children find permanent homes through his Rivers of Hope Foundation. He works with foster-care programs and offers children extracurricular activities. Rivers also makes sure to celebrate the birthdays of those in need.

“It’s certainly an honor to be a finalist for this award,” Rivers said Friday at the Super Bowl media center. “It’s humbling, and it’s certainly special to be here. This is the first Super Bowl I’ve been to, and to be able to come for this reason is special.”

Ravens center Birk, a six-time Pro Bowl selection, works with his HIKE Foundation (Hope, Inspiration, Knowledge, Education) to promote literacy and education in the Baltimore area.

“It’s hard to exactly put into words what it means to be nominated for an award that has Walter Payton’s name on it,” Birk said. “It speaks to the tradition that NFL players have to use the platform that football provides us to get out there in the community, try to be positive role models and make a difference. This is a great honor.”

Tillman, a Bears safety, helps chronically and critically ill children and their families by providing support through treatment and is an advocate for organ donation. Tillman’s daughter received a heart transplant and now is a healthy, active young girl.

“Being a Chicago Bear, I know about Walter Payton’s legacy, and to be mentioned in the same sentence as him, with what he accomplished and what he means to the NFL and Chicago, is extremely humbling,” Tillman said. “Just to be a finalist, I’m in great company.”

Tune in “NFL Honors,” the league’s first-ever awards show on Saturday from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. ET on NBC to find out the winner. Thirteen other award winners, including NFL MVP, also will be announced.

— Matt Florjancic, Special to NFL.com

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