The NFL and Minnesota Vikings announced today DL Harrison Phillips has been named the team’s nominee for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Considered the league’s most prestigious honor, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes NFL players who have not only exhibited excellence on the field but also whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game and has led them to leave positive legacies in their communities.
All 32 nominees will be recognized for their achievements during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII. The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally on CBS on Thursday, Feb. 8.
“We are extremely proud of Harrison and his wife, Shae, for the immediate impact they have made in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. “With his work through Harrison’s Playmakers and with many local organizations, Harrison is an incredible role model to his teammates and pushes those around him to serve and inspire others. We appreciate his endless dedication to our community and are thrilled to nominate him for this prestigious honor.”
The Vikings held an event to celebrate Phillips’ nomination on Monday, Dec. 4, during which Harrison’s Playmakers surprised Phillips with a party while Phillips planned to join virtual events he was hosting in Buffalo, N.Y. and Omaha, Neb. Photos and videos from the event are available here. For additional assets regarding Phillips’ nomination, please click here. For the full story on Phillips’ nomination, please visit Vikings.com.
Since entering the league in 2018, Phillips’ dedication to community efforts has extended over multiple communities and in many capacities. During his time with the Buffalo Bills, he established the Harrison’s Playmakers program, which supports children and young adults with developmental differences and needs. The nonprofit has grown immensely since its inception, now with Playmakers groups in Buffalo, Minnesota and Phillip’s hometown of Omaha, Nebraska. Phillips charges no admission to his camps but does ask that each camper bring an item to donate for a pet shelter or other local charity, providing a path for others to show their giving spirit.
“It is very humbling to be selected as the Vikings 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee,” said Phillips. “The support my teammates have shown since beginning my foundation’s work in Minnesota is remarkable. Blessed is an understatement. On a team filled with so many guys doing so many good things in their communities, for them to give me their vote means so much. To represent the Vikings organization, Harrison’s Playmakers, including individuals with developmental differences and special needs, and of course the great state of Minnesota with this nomination is truly an honor.”
Having grown up in a family that ran a daycare for children with disabilities, Phillips’ love for others is deeply authentic and homegrown. He believes in making the world a better place and encourages others to join the effort. During his time with Buffalo, Phillips was the Bills nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year in back-to-back years (2020 and 2021) and was named one of five finalists for the NFLPA Alan Page Community Award in 2020. Shortly after signing with the Vikings in March 2022, Phillips transferred those same efforts to the Twin Cities community and established his Minnesota chapter of Harrison’s Playmakers. The defensive tackle hosts “Harrison’s Sports Camps” with the Playmakers, intentionally leaving football out of the name because the programming reaches far beyond Phillips’ sport of choice – and the camps are about much more than athletic prowess. From soccer and basketball drills to petting zoos and face painting, the camps feature something for anyone and everyone. In addition to the sports camps, Harrison’s Playmakers has hosted special back-to-school and holiday shopping events, as well.
Community involvement doesn’t slow during the season for Phillips, who often participates in more than one event or initiative each Tuesday. Throughout the 2023 season, Phillips visited the M Health Fairview Masonic Children’s Hospital, partnered with the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Vikings Foundation to educate students on nutrition and reading activities, and helped host a football clinic with Camp Kesem, supporting youth whose parents are battling cancer. Phillips showed Vikings rookies the importance of giving back, helping the group host an “all-abilities” clinic for patients at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital, and he recently joined teammates in serving dinner to patients at the American Cancer Society’s Hope Lodge. Phillips joined teammate C.J. Ham at Ham’s “Pamper Her Purple” event during Crucial Catch month, encouraging women who had defeated cancer or currently were battling, and he spent time with the Vikings Special Olympics Unified Team, congratulating players on “signing” with the team and getting to know the athletes and partners alike.
Phillips’ impact goes well beyond Community Tuesdays. This past offseason, Phillips joined Twin Cities high school students on a Project Success trip to Washington, D.C., where he learned more about African American history and the importance of social justice efforts and allyship. Phillips visited two local children’s hospitals; learned about All Square, a social justice-focused program in Minneapolis, and inspired youth at the Little Earth Boys & Girls Club.
During Vikings Training Camp, Phillips visited with special guests – from adults with special needs to underserved children and youngsters with disabilities after every single practice, taking photos and signing autographs. Phillips invited a young girl with Spina Bifida, Elliana, to training camp after sending her a letter that spring in response to her Vikings-themed leg braces. He spent time with Elliana following practice, asking about the adaptive sports Elliana plays. After the Vikings joint practices with the Cardinals, Phillips helped welcome the 2023 Vikings Special Olympics Unified Flag Football Team, having also worked with the 2022 squad.
As a nominee, Phillips will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field. Each nominee will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are made possible by the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
This year, fans are once again encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s annual Charity Challenge, a social media and online contest that allows fans to show support for their favorite Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Fans can vote on X (formerly Twitter) by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with the name/X handle of their chosen nominee or by voting directly on NFL.com/ManOfTheYear. In cases where multiple nominees share the same last name (i.e. Justin Jones and Jonathan Jones), all valid votes on X must include the #WPMOYChallenge hashtag and the nominee’s handle or full name. The nominee who receives the most collective hashtag mentions and votes will win an additional $35,000 donation from Nationwide to the charity of their choice, with the runner-up receiving $10,000 and the third-place winner receiving $5,000. Charity Challenge voting takes place from Dec. 5 to Jan. 8. In addition, fans can further amplify their support of Phillips by participating in an exciting campaign by Alltroo – an online fundraising platform started by former NFL tight end and 3-time Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee, Kyle Rudolph. Through Alltroo, fans can support Phillips by entering an online fundraiser customized by each player for the chance to win special prizes and experiences, such as meet and greets, game tickets, sideline passes and more. One hundred percent of the proceeds raised through Alltroo’s campaign will directly support the nominee’s non-profit/charity of choice. For more information visit Alltroo.com.
For more information on the nominees and the award, please visit NFL.com/ManOfTheYear.
(info courtesy of Vikings)