The NFL and Minnesota Vikings announced today WR Adam Thielen has been named the team’s nominee for the 2022 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. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a prime-time awards special to air on ABC the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII.
“Adam and Caitlin’s commitment and willingness to give back and serve Minnesotans through the Thielen Foundation is truly inspiring,” said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. “We are proud of Adam for the impact he has made on the community and he is the best representation of what the Minnesota Vikings should stand for. We cannot thank him enough for his commitment to the organization, to the Twin Cities and to the entire state of Minnesota. He’s extremely deserving to be our 2022 nominee for this impressive honor.”
Since entering the league in 2013, Thielen has dedicated his time, talents and resources to the Minnesota community with a heart to give back to the youth. In an effort to emphasize the overarching theme of youth development, he and his wife, Caitlin, created the Thielen Foundation in 2018 to create programs that serve, educate and inspire those in need so they’re equipped and empowered to reach their full potential in life. Thielen Foundation has donated more than $2.5 million and invested time and other resources into communities so far.
This past October, the Thielen Foundation pledged a $1 million donation to be shared between the following eight Minnesota-based nonprofit organizations:
V3 Sports — Promotes health, wellness, equity and opportunity through fitness and water safety
Nexus-Gerard Family Healing — Part of Nexus Family Healing, a national nonprofit network of mental health agencies Children’s Minnesota Hospital — Supports children’s health through care, research and education
Urban Ventures — Reduces opportunity gaps in academics, nutrition and other resources
Second Harvest Heartland/Minnesota Central Kitchen — Reduces food insecurity
The Salvation Army, Twin Cities — A faith-based, comprehensive approach to meeting human needs
Masonic Children’s Hospital — Thielen Foundation directly supports the hospital’s behavioral health unit
Northside Achievement Zone — Strives to end generational poverty and build a culture of achievement in North Minneapolis
The all-around vision and proficiencies of these eight specific organizations include everything from mental health care to academic and athletic programming, to mentoring to spiritual guidance to nutrition, physical wellness and more for youth — causes Thielen Foundation has fully supported since its inception four years ago.
“It’s such an honor especially when you’re voted on by your peers and teammates,” said Vikings wide receiver Adam Thielen. “It’s just so cool to have them vote me for this award and not only me but also my wife, our foundation and what we’re trying to do. The greatest thing about it is the guys who are voting for it, are also the guys who are helping me out at a lot of these events to raise money to help this community as much as we possibly can. It makes it that much more special when your teammates are nominating you for the award and I am so thankful to be named the Vikings 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
In 2020, Thielen Foundation announced the Change-Thru-Sport program to direct funds to organizations making impacts through sports. Through the program, Brooklyn Center High School received a weight room renovation, as well as the donation of cleats and equipment for all eight fall sports programs (a value of $50,000) and new cleats for two consecutive years for football and soccer teams. They also helped raise $250,000 to repair the lights at the Brooklyn Center’s football stadium to allow games to be played in the evening, enabling more people in the community to attend. Additionally, Detroit Lakes High School, where Thielen attended, received a $100,000 donation to renovate its weight room and create new jerseys. Robbinsdale Cooper High School also received $25,000 for renovations and new jerseys.
Beginning in 2019, Thielen established a relationship with The Salvation Army and has been able to expand that relationship by adopting between five and 10 families each year through The Salvation Army’s Pathway of Hope program. The families receive a Christmas experience they otherwise would not receive, as well as providing assistive funds for computers, school tuition or covering an electric bill.
Beyond the financial impacts, Thielen sets a tangible example to youth and adults throughout Minnesota and beyond.
His story resonates with every football player and his path inspires them to live out their dreams and equip others to accomplish theirs.
Thielen, who originally entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2013 is now in his ninth season with the Vikings and has appeared in 130 career games with 96 starts and has totaled 520 receptions for 6,546 yards and 52 touchdowns. He was named to consecutive Pro Bowls in 2017-18 and was named Second-Team Associated Press All-Pro in 2017. In 2018, Thielen became the first player in NFL history to record eight consecutive games with 100-plus receiving yards to start a season. This season, Thielen passed WR Steve Jordan (498) for the third-most receptions in franchise history trailing only Hall of Fame WR’s Randy Moss (587) and Cris Carter (1,004). He also moved up to fourth place in receiving yards (6,519), passing WR Jake Reed (6,443). In Week 12 against the Patriots, Thielen hauled in his 52nd touchdown, tying WR Anthony Carter for the third-most in franchise history.
The Minnesota Vikings held a private reception to celebrate Thielen’s nomination at the team’s headquarters on Monday, Dec. 5. Photos and videos from the reception are available here. For additional assets regarding Thielen’s nomination, please click here. For the full story on Thielen’s nomination, please visit Vikings.com
As a nominee, Thielen 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.
For the fifth year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a prime-time awards special to air on ABC the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII.
All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s 87th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee’s last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique mention is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 18, 2023, will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second- and third-place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at https://www.nfl.com/honors/man-of-the-year/ along with more information about the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
(info and photo courtesy of Vikings)