The Detroit Lions’ 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee has been named. Linebacker Devon Kennard is this year’s representative for the team. You can see the nominees from each team right here.
“To me, the Walter Payton Man of The Year Award stands for excellence on and off the field,” said Kennard via the Lions’ official press release. “As I reflect on every player who has ever won this award I see one common thread; a group of men who are exceptional football players, but at some point made the realization that real success is helping others succeed and grow. Their life’s work reflects this realization. Youth mentorship, education and literacy have been a passion of mine since entering the NFL six years ago and I’m excited to shed light on the amazing organizations I have had the honor of working with here in Detroit. I want to personally thank my family, Mrs. Ford, Coach Patricia, all my teammates and the community relations department here in Detroit.”
Since joining the team in 2018, Kennard has been a staple in the Lions’ community, with a specific focus on youth. He has specifically worked a lot with the Midnight Golf Program, a program developed to empower young people through life skills training and mentorship.
Back in the offseason, Kennard was also the face of Detroit’s “Touchdown in Your Town” initiative, which helped fund youth football programs all around Michigan. And back in January, he was the player spokesperson for the Detroit Lions’ launch of several social justice initiatives.
“Social justice to us means equality amongst all types of people, no matter your race, religion or what you believe in,” Kennard said back in January. “There has been a lot of talk about awareness and I think we as NFL players are beyond that now. It’s about action and what we are going to do, and this initiative is the start of something impactful. There is no greater place than our own backyard here in Detroit.”
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for Kennard. He has been active in the community ever since he touched down in Detroit in 2018.
The winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award will be announced the Saturday prior to the Super Bowl. For now, though, you can vote for Kennard for the separate Walter Payton Man of The Year Challenge by using the hashtag #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter along with “Kennard.” Winner of the challenge will receiver $25,000 to the charity of their choice.