Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was named the 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Saturday. The award recognizes outstanding community service off the field as well as excellence on it.
"Russell Wilson has always prioritized serving his community, but this year, he met the challenge and more when it was needed most," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a statement. "He has shown continued excellence on the field for nine seasons, but the work he has done to help youth and fight food insecurity through his Why Not You Foundation bolsters his lasting legacy. Russell is extremely deserving of this award and I know he will use this as an additional springboard to continue to positively impact others."
The Why Not You Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to education, children's health and fighting poverty, according to the Seahawks. The name comes from something Wilson said his father always told him growing up: "Why not you?"
It was his dad who Wilson addressed when he accepted the award at the NFL Honors Saturday night.
"Dad, I can remember you telling me in the car one day, 'Son. Love changes things.' Well, dad, you were right," Wilson said. "I wish you were here to tell the world that in the toughest of times."
Wilson mentioned how the world lost NBA legend Kobe Bryant, actor Chadwick Boseman and George Floyd whose death while in the custody of Minneapolis police launched a worldwide movement against racial injustice. He also talked about how the world has struggled in the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Dad, I wish you were here to tell the world love changes things," Wilson said.
On the field, Wilson led the Seahawks to their ninth-consecutive winning season -- the only quarterback in NFL history to ever do that to start a career. He had career highs in touchdown passes (40), completion percentage (68.8%) and was seven yards shy of his career high in passing yards (4,212).
This was the second time Wilson was nominated by the Seahawks for the award, the first time being 2014. Most recently, Wilson was the recipient of the Vince Lombardi Cancer Foundation Award of Excellence for his efforts to fund cancer research, according to the Seahawks.
Wilson will receive a donation of $250,000, which will go to a charity of his choice.
Wilson is the second Seahawk to win the award. NFL Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent won the award in 1989.