The San Francisco 49ers announced on Wednesday that Torrey Smith is the team's nominee for the 2016 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Named after the late Hall of Fame running back of the Chicago Bears, the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is given annually to the player who best exemplifies a commitment to philanthropy and community involvement. The 32 nominees will be pared down to three finalists which will be announced on January 22nd. The winner will be announced in Houston, Texas, the site of Super Bowl LI, during the sixth annual NFL Honors awards show, on February 4th.
The 49ers staff, players along with Convoy of Hope came together to provide groceries, haircuts, clothing, toys and much more at an event at Levi's Stadium.
In support of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and Character Playbook, United Way Worldwide, the National Football League Foundation and Nationwide have committed to donating $50,000 towards each team-level winner for the charity of his choice in addition to receiving $50,000 in his name to fund Character Playbook in the San Francisco 49ers market. Smith will direct his nominee donation towards the Torrey Smith Family Fund.
"I'm very humbled to be recognized by my peers as the 49ers team nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award," said Smith. "I strive to be the best man that I can be by setting a good example for my two boys as well as those who look up to me. I understand the responsibility that comes from being in this position and it is an honor to be associated with Walter Payton and his legacy."
An active member in the community since middle school, Smith's charitable contributions span from coast-to-coast. Still centered in Baltimore, Smith and his wife, Chanel, spearhead the Torrey Smith Family Fund, a nonprofit established to provide youth with the tools they need to identify, unleash, and reach their full potential. As part of the nonprofit's efforts, the Torrey Smith Family Fund has activated on various programs including, but not limited to, hosting a Leadership, Education, Vision, Effort, Love (L.E.V.E.L.) Teen Summit, L.E.V.E.L. Up multisport and STEM Camp, school supply donations, Reading Oases, holiday events, annual celebrity basketball games, and open dialogue events with activists, educators, officers and community members to discuss issues
facing young black males in Baltimore. In addition, in honor of Torrey's late brother, Tevin Jones, the Torrey Smith Family Fund awards four annual college scholarships to high school seniors. During the 2016 offseason, Smith used his time and resources to help those affected by the contaminated water supply in Flint, Mich. Smith is also an active participant of the 49ers Community Mondays events throughout the Bay Area community, including opportunities to thank military men and women for their service. He and his wife also "adopted" an entire shelter for women who are expecting or have recently given birth and are working on staying clean, sober and safe for their children.
Smith's reputation as one of the most explosive players in the NFL followed him to San Francisco in 2015, his first season as a member of the 49ers. Smith became the first 49ers player to register three receptions for 70-or-more yards in the same season since WR John Taylor accomplished the feat in 1989. On the season, he recorded 33 receptions for 663 yards and 4 touchdowns. Smith's 20.1 yards per catch was the highest in the NFL during the 2015 season.
In 2016, Smith has continued to stretch opposing defenses down the field, registering 20 receptions for 267 yards (13.4 average), with three touchdowns that include receptions of 28 and 53 yards. Combining his 13.4 average this season with 2015's 20.1 average, Smith ranks 3rd in the NFL over the past two years with a 17.5 receiving average.
Smith's knack for big plays was evident from the very beginning of his NFL career. In his very first NFL start in 2011 with Baltimore, his first three career receptions all went for touchdowns and he became the first rookie in NFL history to record three touchdown receptions in a first quarter. That season, he set the Ravens rookie franchise record for most receptions (50), receiving yards (841) while tying for touchdown catches (seven). In his four seasons with Baltimore, Smith finished as the team's leader in average yards-per-catch (16.9) and second in franchise history with 30 touchdown receptions.
This marks the third time Smith has been selected for the prestigious accolade, as the Ravens nominated Smith twice (2013-14) during his four seasons in Baltimore.
In February, former 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin became the first player in franchise history to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.