The prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award historically recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970 and renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each year, the Denver Broncos are proud to nominate one player who has had a significant, positive impact on his community.
Quarterback John Elway is the only Broncos player to win the national award (1992).
2017 Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year: CB Chris Harris Jr.
The Denver Broncos named CB Chris Harris Jr. the team's 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award recipient for his outstanding leadership both on the field and in the community.
Harris Jr. and his wife, Leah, started the Chris Harris Jr. Foundation in 2012 to provide underprivileged youth with unique opportunities so they can more adequately achieve their goals. Through his foundation, Harris Jr. has established partnerships with notable national and local organizations, including the Denver Children’s Home (DCH), which helps kids who have survived trauma, neglect and abuse confront serious mental health challenges. The Chris Harris Jr. Foundation has positively impacted hundreds of kids and families through various programs and events supporting DCH.
Since 2013, Harris Jr. has supported various statewide and nationwide initiatives to speak out against domestic violence, including the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s “How I See DV” campaign and the NFL’s NO MORE movement. During the 2017 Season, the Broncos tapped Harris Jr. for a statewide PSA in partnership with “Stand Up Colorado,” a collaborative, multi-year relationship violence prevention campaign spearheaded by the Colorado Attorney General that goes beyond public awareness to alter behavior and affect long-term social change.
This summer, Harris Jr. joined Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock in launching Mentor Colorado’s #MentoringFlipped campaign to improve the number of quality mentoring relationships for young people. Harris Jr. was selected because of his commitment to mentoring underdogs and work with Big Brothers Big Sisters over the past four years.
Harris Jr. has also been one of the most consistent advocates for the team’s community platform, including his role as the player liaison for the team’s partnership with Denver Rescue Mission. He has received the Broncos Community Ambassador Award in 2015 and 2016 for his leadership in team initiatives.
In addition to his charitable work, Harris Jr.’s professionalism and respect for the game has been recognized on multiple occasions. In 2013, the Denver media selected Harris Jr. as the team’s Darrent Williams Good Guy Award winner. He was chosen as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner by his teammates in 2014 after coming back from a torn ACL to start every game and earn his first Pro Bowl.
Other past Denver Broncos Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winners include:
|2016: Virgil Green||2011: Wesley Woodyard||2006: Rod Smith|
|2015: David Bruton Jr.||2010: Wesley Woodyard||2005: John Lynch|
|2014: Ben Garland||2009: Champ Bailey||2004: Rod Smith|
|2013: Wesley Woodyard||2008: Champ Bailey||2003: Ian Gold|
|2012: Zane Beadles||2007: Domonique Foxworth||2002: Ed McCaffrey|