The Browns named outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard their 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year today. The award recognizes players for community service and playing excellence.
Below is a news release from the Browns.
BEREA, Ohio -- Jabaal Sheard has been named the Cleveland Browns 2013 Walter Payton Man of the Year, the team announced Thursday. Renamed in 1999 after legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, the accolade is presented to one member of each of the 32 teams, highlighting players’ community service and playing excellence. Sheard will be recognized during pregame festivities Sunday against Chicago, the Browns’ final home game at FirstEnergy Stadium this season.
From the league-wide designees, three NFL finalists will be selected to be honored during the week of Super Bowl XLVIII in New York-New Jersey. The 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award will be presented on Saturday, Feb. 1, during the Third Annual NFL Honors, where the league will salute its best players, performances and plays from 2013.
“Jabaal is very deserving of this recognition,” Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinski said. “When I first met Jabaal, I could tell right away there was something special about him. Jabaal carries a quiet relentlessness on the field, and is an outstanding football player. But off the field, he really separates himself because he’s an MVP in our community and a great ambassador for our organization. It’s genuinely important to him, and we’re very proud that Jabaal Sheard wears our uniform every Sunday.”
Since joining the Browns as a second-round draft pick (37th overall) in 2011, the linebacker has been committed to impacting those most in need in Northeast Ohio. Through this dedication, especially to aiding children, the University of Pittsburgh product has established himself as an advocate and leader among his teammates, coaches and community.
“It’s an honor to be selected for this award,” said Sheard. “Walter Payton was a great man on and off the field, and it’s humbling to be mentioned with him. Educating youth, especially here in our Cleveland community, is something that is very important to me, as well as helping those less fortunate.”
Sheard, whose character and mission to support education was shaped by his childhood and appreciation for family role models, has supported numerous Browns community efforts and is passionate about emphasizing the importance of education with local youth. This year alone, the Hollywood Hills, Fla., native has read to local first graders during a patriotic-themed visit to Garfield Heights Library Branch (Sept. 10); attended a Hispanic Heritage Month PLAY 60 event at Walton School (Sept. 17); encouraged Menlo Park Academy students to eat a healthy breakfast each day and participate in the Browns “ceREAL” Food Drive, benefitting Cleveland Foodbank (Oct. 8); helped build a local playground during Hometown Huddle, the NFL’s annual day of service across the league with United Way (Oct. 22); and spread cheer and goodwill by delivering special gifts to individuals in Cleveland Clinic Children’s care, including many who may not spend the holidays at home.
Sheard represents the Cleveland Browns in United Way’s Team NFL with “Team Sheard,” which encourages people to volunteer and mentor children in Cleveland with the goal of diminishing the high-school dropout rate. Recently, he organized an event to meet with volunteers and mentors who joined “Team Sheard.”
Additionally, Sheard promotes the Browns PLAY 60 movement and supports various charitable organizations in the area, including ones that impact kids with disabilities. He also visits hospital patients and works with Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, City Year and Shoes and Clothes for Kids, and sponsors a community season-ticket program “Jabaal’s Baalers,” which provides tickets and player-customized T-shirts to United Way.
The Browns’ sack leader each of the past two seasons (8.5 in 2011, 7.0 in 2012), Sheard is tied for second on the team with 4.5 sacks. He also ranks third with 13 QB harassments, after transitioning to outside linebacker from defensive end in Cleveland’s 3-4 defense and battling back from a knee injury sustained in Week 3 at Minnesota. During the Browns’ 31-27 win over the Vikings (Sept. 22), he posted three solo tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
As the Browns’ Walter Payton Man of the Year, the NFL will provide a $1,000 donation to a charity of Sheard’s choice on his behalf.
The NFL Man of the Year's designated 501(c)(3) non-profit charity receives a $20,000 donation in his name. Non-profit organizations selected by the other 31 teams each receive a $1,000 donation, while the three finalists receive an additional $5,000 to support their chosen non-profit charities.
The Man of the Year award has been given annually since 1970. Past winners include many of the league’s greatest players, 13 of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Cleveland Browns Walter Payton Man of the Year award:
1999 OG Jim Pyne
2000 LB Jamir Miller
2001 LB Wali Rainer
2002 RB Jamel White
2003 QB Kelly Holcomb
2004 DE Kenard Lang
2005 QB Trent Dilfer
2006 QB Charlie Frye
2007 WR Braylon Edwards
2008 K Phil Dawson
2009 WR Mike Furrey*
2010 OL Joe Thomas
2011 WR Joshua Cribbs
2012 OL Joe Thomas*
2013 LB Jabaal Sheard
*Denotes NFL finalist