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 recognizes NFL players for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
Armstead has been a consistent philanthropist, with a particular focus on education in his hometown of Sacramento, California. In October of 2022, Armstead made his largest donation to date when he pledged $250,000 to Mercy Housing California, an affordable housing organization.
His Storytime with Arik Armstead program motivates students to grow their reading skills. In addition to visiting schools in person and via Zoom to read to classrooms, Armstead helped distribute books to over 2,000 San Francisco Unified School District students and over 2,000 Boys & Girls Club members. The contribution emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion and supported black-owned businesses and authors of color.
Since May 2020, he has impacted nearly 5,000 youth from first to fifth grade, read live to 25 separate virtual classrooms in 21 school districts from Sacramento to Qatar, and covered topics such as equality, black history and sustainability.
Education is at the forefront of Armstead's commitment to the Bay Area, as the defensive lineman founded the Armstead Academic Project in 2019 to ensure every student, no matter their socioeconomic status, has direct access to a quality education through a positive learning environment and resources needed in order to thrive and be successful.
The Armstead Academic Project offers various tools to empower at-risk and underserved students, including creative and scholastic workshops, school supply programs and scholarships.
"When I sat down and thought about how I could have the biggest impact in Sacramento, the No. 1 glaring theme in terms of when you look at equality in our society, the achievement gap and financial gap between socioeconomic classes, education was glaring for me to address some of those issues," Armstead said.
View some of Arik Armstead's best moments in the community with the 49ers and his foundation, the Armstead Academic Project. To honor his extensive work in the community, the 49ers have named Armstead as their 2020 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, presented by Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 8th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote teams' nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by Armstead or @arikarmstead. The player whose unique mention is used the most between December 6th and January 8th will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice.
"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."