Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott has been selected as the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year which recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
First established in 1970, the national award was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton. The announcement was made during NFL Honors, the League’s annual two-hour primetime awards special held that aired nationally on ABC.
Prior to the kickoff of Super Bowl LVII, all 32 Man of the Year nominees, one representative for each club, will be recognized for their contributions to the game and to their communities. The Man of the Year Pregame Moment will also include the 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, Los Angeles Rams Legend Andrew Whitworth, handing the award to Prescott as he is introduced as the 2022 recipient.
“Ever since Dak Prescott entered the NFL, he has inspired others around him to push through adversity and to help those in need when they need it the most,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “Through his Faith, Fight, Finish Foundation he has been able to tremendously impact so many lives in the state of Texas as well as in his home state of Louisiana.”
“Dak has been a leader in the mental health space and in raising awareness for the fight against cancer – two causes near and dear to his heart. Dak has already created an incredible legacy for himself in the League with a long way to go, and we’re proud to name him the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Goodell continued.
Since being drafted in the fourth round in 2016, Prescott has developed into not only one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks, but now one of the best in Cowboys franchise history. The Cowboys picked Prescott out of Mississippi State in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
In his first season, he led the Cowboys to an NFC East Division crown and was the first rookie QB in team history named to the Pro Bowl and the first to win AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. He returned as the starter for 2017-2019 and began the 2020 season explosively, leading all NFL passers in attempts, completions and passing yards before an ankle injury ended his season.
After rehabbing the injury, he returned in full health for 2021, guiding Dallas’ offense towards multiple wins, Offensive Player of the Week honors, career-high stats and a Wild Card berth. In 2022, he again faced adversity, suffering a hand injury in the first game of the season, which caused him to miss five games. He then came back and led the Cowboys to victory on Super Wild Card Weekend – marking the club’s first road playoff win since the 1992 NFC Championship Game.
The unprecedented challenges of the past few years spurred Prescott to broaden the mission of the community work done through his Faith Fight Finish (FFF) Foundation. FFF now focuses on four main initiatives: colon cancer research, mental health and suicide prevention, bridging the gap between law enforcement and the communities they serve, and offering assistance to those facing life-challenging hardships.
Prescott feels strongly about getting police to interact with their communities, so youth feel safe in their presence, and has made great strides this year in utilizing his million-dollar-pledge to help heal and unite. In May 2022, FFF hosted The North Texas Townhall where over 250 youth participated in a meaningful dialogue with law enforcement officers.
FFF sponsors police-led youth workshops at local schools and recently hosted a Community & Cops Movie Night, in partnership with Crowley ISD and the Fort Worth Police Department. Prescott’s Law Enforcement Steering Committee is working to bring the CYCLE (Connecting Youth & Communities with Law Enforcement) training program to communities across the country, free of charge.
Since losing his brother to suicide, Prescott has championed those who battle mental illness by helping them to know that their lives matter. He made a promise that his brother Jace’s life would be “a life taken to save millions.” FFF has partnered with Solomon Thomas’s The Defensive Line on programs that provide suicide prevention trainings for teachers that help connect students in crisis with the resources needed.
FFF also collaborated with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to spread awareness that the National Suicide Prevention Hotline changed to a 3-digit number (988) in July 2022, making it more accessible for those in need. He also continues the fight against cancer in honor of his mother.
In April 2022, he succeeded Roger Staubach as Co-Chair of the Children’s Cancer Fund Gala, joining Troy Aikman to continue the fight against childhood cancer that Staubach led for more than 30 years. In addition to donating his time, Prescott has contributed more than $40,000 to childhood cancer research.
Prescott understands the struggle so many families face, which is why the individual giving pillar of his foundation means so much to him. FFF frequently champions individuals and families facing medical adversity, from cancer diagnoses to mental health crises, by subsidizing costs not covered by insurance, including travel, housing, groceries and other basic living expenses.
Prescott will receive a donation of $255,000 which will go to a charity of his choice. All other 31 nominees will receive a donation of up to $55,000 in their name to their charity of choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.