Miami, Fla. – Jacksonville Jaguars DL Calais Campbell was named the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, the NFL announced yesterday. The award, which is presented by Nationwide, is considered one of the league's most prestigious honors and recognizes the NFL player that best demonstrates outstanding community service and excellence on the field. The announcement was made during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special that aired nationally on FOX on the eve of Super Bowl LIV.
"Calais Campbell's impact extends far beyond the field, into communities throughout Phoenix, Jacksonville and beyond," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "During his 12 seasons in the league, he has been a tremendous role model for the youth he serves through his CRC Foundation and is incredibly deserving of the league's most prestigious honor."
Alongside his mother, Nateal, and seven siblings, Campbell formed the CRC Foundation in 2009 and has engaged in numerous charitable initiatives throughout his 12-year NFL career. The CRC Foundation, named for his late father, Charles, is committed to the enhancement of the community through the teaching of critical life skills to young people, transforming them into empowered and self-aware leaders of the future. Campbell spoke of his father on stage while accepting the award Saturday night.
"My dad passed away when I was 17 years old. It was a hard moment, but he left me with so many life lessons, one being failure is a part of the process. We are all going to fail, but those failures become lessons if we learn from them and never give up. My goal when I give back is to inspire people, to encourage people to believe that dreams are achievable if you put the work in. Everybody, and I mean everybody, can give back. It doesn't matter where you are in your life. Reach back and help someone. It's our duty to help our neighbors. Even if you can only give five minutes to someone in need, give it to them. That one-on-one quality time, that little bit of extra time can make a world of difference. Those five minutes can change a life."
Since signing with the Jaguars in 2017, Campbell has embraced the northeast Florida community with enthusiasm. He has hosted two editions of Christmas with Calais, a holiday shopping spree for local kids who have completed extra lessons in financial literacy. In June 2019, he welcomed 250 kids at the Calais Campbell JaxPAL Youth Football and STEM Camp, combining his football acumen and interest in mentoring today's youth through education. Campbell has made semi-weekly visits to Northwestern Middle School as part of his CRC Book Club, fostering a reading-friendly community at an underperforming school in downtown Jacksonville. In conjunction with the Kids Hope Alliance, Campbell has made multiple appearances around northeast Florida, speaking to students at schools such as Edward Waters College and Raines High School to offer them encouragement and a chance to talk about social justice. He is a regular participant in Jaguars Foundation community events, including base visits during Salute to Service week and Jaguars For a Day programs during training camp.
The 2018 recipient of the NFL's Bart Starr Award, Campbell sought to elevate his charitable giving and introduced a new initiative for the 2019 NFL season. Campbell's Season of Giving pledged a specific dollar amount to a different local charity each month during the season based on several on-field metrics. In 2019, Campbell contributed $20,000 each to Feeding Northeast Florida (September), the Clara White Mission (October), Wounded Warrior Project (November) and The United Way of Northeast Florida (December). Prior to the return to his hometown when the Jaguars faced the Broncos on Sept. 29, Campbell donated an additional $5,000 each to several Denver-based charities: the Beckwourth Outdoor Education, Denver Police Athletic League, Hiawatha Davis Rec Center (where he spent time as a kid) and the Rose Andom Center.
"Calais means so much more to the NFL than being a great player on the field each and every Sunday," said Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone. "He embodies all the traits that make someone a consummate professional, and his passion and love for the game and everything it represents is why he's a perfect selection for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. As a tenured veteran, Calais has made an impact everywhere he's been during his football career, both inside the organizations he's played for with his teammates, coaches and the staff, as well as in the community with his neighbors. With every second of free time, it seems like he's always out in the city looking for a way to give back and make a difference. I'm honored to have had the privilege to coach a player and a man like Calais Campbell."
As the winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, Campbell will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.