Boldin Named Walter Payton Man of Year

The NFL awarded a player from each team for his volunteer work and on-field excellence.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Categories: Mike Duffy

Team President Dick Cass presents the award to Boldin

Ravens WR Anquan Boldin has been named the team’s honoree as the Walter Payton Man of the Year. The award is given annually by the National Football League to honor a player’s volunteer and charity work, as well as his excellence on the field. A local nominee is named from each of the 32 NFL teams, and a panel of judges, including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Connie Payton, widow of the late Walter Payton, will choose the eventual national winner.

Boldin, in his eighth NFL season, was named the league’s Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2003, and has earned three career Pro Bowls. Boldin is the fastest player in league history to reach 400, 500 and 600 catches. Playing in Arizona for seven years, he finished as the Cardinals’ all-time receptions leader (586).

The playmaker is now at home in Baltimore and leads the team in receiving yards (813) and touchdowns (seven). He ranks second with 60 receptions and has played an integral role in the Ravens’ 10-4 start.

Off the field, community outreach is very important to the Boldin family. Anquan, wife Dionne, and sons Anquan, Jr. and newborn Ashton, are frequently seen out and about. The Anquan Boldin Foundation, established in 2004, is dedicated to expanding the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children. Charitable work has been concentrated in Florida and Arizona, but now includes Baltimore. Fundraising efforts support local initiatives and the building fund of the Boys and Girls Club of Pahokee, Fla (Anquan’s hometown). Anquan recently acquired the land for the nonprofit to energize its capital campaign. Annual fundraising events include his Q-Fest, which features a golf classic, celebrity basketball game and “Fun Day in the Park.” The event is in its sixth year.

“I feel we’re here for a specific reason, and it’s more than just playing football,” Boldin said. “We are here to make a difference in our communities, because if it wasn’t for those people supporting us, we wouldn’t be where we are today. For myself, honestly speaking, I was a kid in need growing up, so I stay real attached to the community where I’m from and the cities where I play football.”

Walter Payton Man of the Year 2010 Award

Anquan recently hosted the sixth annual Holiday Helpers event, alongside teammate Derrick Mason, where the duo donated $10,000 to provide a personal shopping experience for youth in need. Anquan also joined the Wounded Warrior Project in September to assemble packages for troops overseas. The group filled more than 200 backpacks as part of the Under Armour Freedom Initiative, where fans can purchase Wounded Warrior Project/Under Armour-branded products and give the backpack to injured heroes. Each pack contained products worth more than $300 and will be presented to an injured service member recuperating in a military hospital.

In addition, the NFL star was recently named honorary chair of the United Way of Central Maryland’s Emerging Leaders United, a collection of leaders 40-and-under who are actively seeking ways to give, advocate and volunteer. Boldin will encourage young professionals to use philanthropy and volunteerism to help the community.

“Anybody in need, I’m willing to help, but helping kids is definitely an area I’m targeting,” said Boldin. “I know what it feels like to not have anybody around. I know it’s cliché, but kids are the future. If you can get to a kid early, you can definitely make a difference in their life.”

As the local Walter Payton Man of the Year honoree, he will receive $1,000 towards the Anquan Boldin Foundation. The top three finalists, with the announcement to be made in January 2011, will receive an additional $5,000, and the eventual national winner will receive $25,000 towards his charity.

“I always looked at Walter Payton, at what he brought to the table as far as a football player, just the passion and drive that he had on the field,” Boldin admitted. “It definitely means a lot to get this award.”

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