The San Francisco 49ers announced DL Arik Armstead as their 2022 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award presented by Nationwide, marking his third consecutive nomination. Considered one of the NFL's most prestigious awards, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
Armstead has earned the unprecedented distinction of being the 49ers Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee for a third year in recognition of his unrivaled accomplishments on the field and in the community. This year, Armstead's significant community investments through his time and donations were even grander than his 6'7" stature. Centered on social justice, he cemented his commitment to youth education equity through his foundation, the Armstead Academic Project (AAP), established in 2019.
Believing that literacy and guidance are integral to success, Armstead grew his Storytime with Arik Armstead program, reading to nearly 200 students in seven classrooms. In addition to mentoring students at a juvenile detention facility, Armstead provided enrichment experiences for underserved youth including funding college tours for 100 students, purchasing 100 tickets for kids to attend 49ers games, and providing reading glasses for 225 students.
Since 2015, Armstead has directly impacted over 6,000 youth, and countless others through community-wide events. Some of his past highlights include reading to nearly 3,000 students in over 30 classrooms to encourage them to reach grade-level literacy standards through the Storytime with Arik Armstead program, sponsoring and hosting over 2,250 students for youth football camps and college field trips, donating over $500,000 of $2M committed to support Sacramento youth, and purchasing, wrapping, and delivering over $20,000 in holiday gifts to UC Davis Hospital pediatric patients for six consecutive years.
"I consider my career as what I do on the field and off the field. I think they both go hand in hand. I know a lot of guys do a lot of amazing things in the community, so to be a part of that and be honored with them is a huge experience for me and I don't take it lightly," said Armstead of his nomination. "It's going to allow us to do more work and serve more people."
Throughout his eight-year career (2015-22), Armstead has appeared in 98 games (80 starts) and registered 269 tackles, 28.5 sacks, six passes defensed, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery. In 2019, Armstead registered single-season career highs in tackles (54), sacks (10.0), passes defensed (two), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (one). His 10.0 sacks led the team and ranked tied for 15th in the NFL in 2019. He also started all three postseason contests and added eight tackles, 2.0 sacks and one forced fumble. Last year, Armstead started all 17 regular season games, registering 6.0 sacks, 63 tackles and 11 QB hits and started all three postseason games, racking up 3.0 sacks and nine tackles. Dealing with injuries this year, he has started four games and registered five tackles, including one tackle for loss. Armstead has also been named a defensive captain three times in his career (2020-2022).
As a nominee, Armstead will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
All 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII, on NBC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive up to a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 8th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique mention is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.