Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who raised more than $37 million in 19 days for a Hurricane Harvey relief fund, won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award on Saturday night.
“It's an incredible honor to be mentioned in the same breath as Walter Payton, his legacy and everything he meant to football on the field, and, more important, his humanity off the field,” Watt said. “This award goes to so many more people than just myself. It goes out to the City of Houston and everything they've been through. It goes to the hundreds of thousands of people who helped donate. And it goes out to my family and everybody who supported me. It's much bigger than just one man. It's about resiliency and the ability to overcome adversity.”
In his first year as a finalist, Watt joined former Oilers quarterback Warren Moon as the only Houston players to win the Man of the Year Award, The Houston Chronicle reported. The award annually honors a player who makes charitable contributions off the field and combines it with excellence on the field.
Watt is the fourth defensive lineman to win in the 48-year history of the award, the Chronicle reported. The others were Pittsburgh defensive tackle Joe Greene (1979), New York Jets defensive end Marty Lyons (1984) and Miami defensive end Jason Taylor (2007).
“To be able to represent Houston and be able to shine a light on some of the positive things that go on in the NFL all the time – some of the good work that goes on in the community – I think that's just so special,” Watt said during his acceptance speech. “The more we can all do in the community and help each other out the better off we're going to be.”