Wednesday the NFL announced the 32 finalists (one for each team) for the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, presented by Nationwide.
According to the NFL, the recipients represented the “best of the NFL’s commitment to philanthropy and community impact”, and are now eligible to win the national award. The award recognizes a player for his excellence on and off the field, particularly in their respective community.
The Los Angeles Rams representative for the award is punter Johnny Hekker, who joins other notable names lime Larry Fitzgerald, Rob Gronkowski and Matt Ryan, who are among the nominees.
Three of the nominees will be selected in Jan. 2017 as finalists for the award, named for Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton.
The winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on Feb. 4, the night before Super Bowl LI.
Hekker, in his fifth NFL season, has developed into one of the best punters in all of football. Last season he led the NFL in net average (43.7), gross average (47.9) and punts downed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line (41), which he once again leads the league again in 2016 at 15.
He is also currently leading the team in community appearances this year. He is particularly involved with the PLAY 60 program, where he works with kids, Water Boys, an organization founded by former teammate Chris Long that focuses on providing clean water around the world and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Former San Francisco 49ers and current Detroit Lions receiver Anquan Boldin won the award in 2015.