Safety Michael Thomas has been announced as the New York Giants nominee for the Walter Payton Man of The Year award.
Thomas has been a leader in the Giants’ locker room since being added in free agency back in March, but more importantly, he has been a force for good in the community for far longer than he has been a Giant.
Thomas hosted his 4th Annual “Camp Mike T” in his hometown of Houston, Texas, focusing on leadership, academics and athletics. The weekend event includes discussions on SAT/ACT prep, financial literacy, and athlete activism. He also gave away his first $10,000 college scholarship to a camp participant. Additionally, Thomas has interned with Texas Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, learning about the duties of government, and the responsibilities of serving in Congress. He’s partnered with the NJ Secretary General’s Office to honor New Jersey colleges and Universities who registered the most students to vote during the 2018 “Ballot Bowl” competition, encouraging everyone in attendance to be aware and engaged in their community, and to participate in the upcoming election. Thomas joined several teammates and the Newark Bronze Shields, the African-American police officers association within the Newark Police Department, to host a discussion with local high school student athletes about the importance of academics, selecting college majors, academic demands of a college athlete, sports related occupations and life after sports.
Thomas attended the My Sisters’ Place annual spring benefit to raise funds for thousands of victims of domestic abuse and human trafficking in the United States. He also led the end of year Character Playbook assembly at Mott Hall Bronx High School in June and hosted a kickoff event at Eagle Academy for Young Men of Harlem in September. Recently, Thomas was joined by 15 of his teammates to help the Giants host approximately 80 people experiencing homelessness in Newark for a day of pampering (haircuts, facials, manicures and chair massages), and services (guest speakers and social service agencies), followed by a tour of the stadium.
Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning, along with Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, won the award in 2016.
The award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field.
“It’s humbling, it’s a blessing, especially in my first year with the organization and for them to think that highly of me,” Thomas said. “To have that respect from people throughout the league, and my peers, it’s humbling. I just want to obviously thank God, and thank everybody else who nominated me and thought highly of me to be in this position. It’s almost overwhelming.”
The winner (or winners) of the award will receive 250,000 donation to a charity of their choice, as well as a 250,000 donation in their name to the Expand Character Playbook, a joint program run the the NFL and United Way. Each player nominated will receive a $50,000 donation to a charity of their choice, as well as a donation of $50,000 in their name to the Expand Character Playbook.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s fourth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee’s last name somewhere in the post between December 6 and January 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.