View images of the punter's extensive work in the community, which earned him a nomination for the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
The San Francisco 49ers announced on Thursday that punter Bradley Pinion is the team's nominee for the 2017 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 21st. The winner will be announced in Minneapolis, MN, the site of Super Bowl LII, during the seventh annual NFL Honors awards show, on February 3rd.
To further celebrate and encourage fan support of the 32 Man of the Year nominees, the NFL is executing the third Walter Payton Man of the Year Charity Challenge. The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will receive a $25,000 donation to his charity of choice, second place - $10,000 and third place - $5,000. To support Pinion's social media challenge, use #WPMOYChallengePinion.
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. Pinion will direct his nominee donation towards Convoy of Hope, a faith-based humanitarian organization that provides relief to those in need.
"It's truly an honor to be the 49ers Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee," said Pinion. "Since entering the NFL in 2015, I felt it was my responsibility to use this God-given platform to give of my time and resources to events and causes throughout the Bay Area and the Carolinas. I look forward to continuing these efforts throughout my career and will use this nomination as motivation to live up to what this prestigious award is all about."
Pinion wasted no time making his mark in the community after being selected by the 49ers in the fifth round (165th overall) of the 2015 NFL Draft out of Clemson University. After attending nearly every community event on his days off throughout his first season, Pinion earned the 49ers Community Relations Rookie Service Award. To earn this prestigious award, Pinion volunteered at 12 community events in six months and dedicated more time to serving others than any other member on the team.
Over the past two seasons, Pinion has made an impact on several causes, including athletes with special needs, literacy, animal adoption, wounded veterans, cancer awareness and character building. Pinion has solidified his status as one of the most devoted community servants on the 49ers. In his first three years with the 49ers, Pinion has participated in 30 events benefiting over 40 different organizations.
Throughout 2017, Pinion has continued to lead the 49ers community relations efforts. He was the keynote speaker at this year's Charlie Wedemeyer High School All-Star Football Banquet held in honor of the players and coaches selected for the 2017 All-Star team. He cut the ribbon at the grand opening of a Fitness Zone at the JW House, welcoming kids for the inaugural afternoon of play at the home where families find hope and support while their loved ones are in the hospital.
As part of the Character Playbook LIVE program, Pinion hosted several classrooms via video conference to discuss different lessons related to positive character development and healthy relationships, placing an importance on education, communicating effectively and treating those around you with respect. He later joined Furry Friends Pet Assisted Therapy Services for animal therapy and confidence building activities with students in the Leland High School special needs program as they worked to erase the stigma attached to special needs.
Pinion danced with a pediatric cancer warrior down the runway as her story of strength and courage was shared at the Crucial Catch Fashion Show that also featured breast cancer survivors in honor of the NFL's Crucial Catch Campaign. Prior to this past Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears, Pinion joined the 49ers at a "My Cause, My Cleats" design event where he helped representatives from organizations including the military, education sector, San Francisco Police Department and epilepsy awareness design cleats that the players wore in Week 13 versus Chicago. Pinion showed support for his selected cause, Convoy of Hope, on his cleats.
On the football field, Pinion's 43.5 gross punting average in 2017 is the second-highest of his career. Through 12 games, Pinion is tied for third in the NFL after registering 27 punts downed inside the 20-yard line and has posted one touchback on 64 punts during the season. Combined with a 41.2 net average on the season, which is a career high and ranks eighth in the NFC, the team's 2.3 difference between gross and net punting average is the fourth-best in the NFL through 13 weeks.