BALTIMORE (WJZ) — It’s considered one of the most prestigious honors in the NFL, and a Baltimore Raven is up for the award.
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recognizes a player for outstanding performance both on and off the field. Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson helps countless people through his One More Foundation, most recently working to combat human trafficking, modern-day slavery and other forms of violence against the poor.
The 14-year pro was named Ravens’ Man of the Year for outstanding community service off the field and excellence on the field.
Watson joins Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.
Watson tweeted about the honor Sunday night.
WJZ caught up with Watson earlier this season. In addition to balancing a football career, his family and being a spokesman for the NFL, he’s also an author.
“I have two books, I never thought I’d actually say that,” he said.
It all started with a Facebook post after the shooting of an unarmed black man and rioting in Ferguson, Missouri.
“A lot of people liked it. It got a lot of feedback and I was approached about writing a book about our condition of race,” Watson said.
His second book is also very personal.
“After our second kid, my wife said ‘Benjamin, you need to write a handbook for dads,” he recalls.
The winner will be announced on Feb. 3, the eve of Super Bowl 52. The NFL says $500,000 dollars will be donated in the name of the 2017 winner, and $250,000 will be donated to the winner’s charity of choice.
“You don’t have to spend much time with Benjamin to understand his passion for serving others,” Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti told the NFL. “He is an exceptional person who has a unique ability to lead, educate and inspire. For him to be honored with this award is outstanding. He never looks for recognition, but he certainly deserves it.”