ASHBURN, VA., December 5, 2023 – The Washington Commanders announced Pro Bowl wide receiver Terry McLaurin as the team's nominee for the 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the league's most prestigious honor and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities.
"What I've been blessed and fortunate enough to do in this community, it's been super special," McLaurin said after learning of his nomination. "I'm going to remember this one for sure. This is something that never leaves you. This stuff transcends time."
Since being drafted in 2019, Terry McLaurin has grown his influence in the DMV community and found ways to be a force for good, all leading toward the launch of the Terry McLaurin Foundation last fall. He uses his platform to leverage his individual passion for serving youth into a vehicle for changing countless lives. With a mission to help underserved children become the best version of themselves, the Terry McLaurin Foundation works to provide educational and social support, health and wellness assistance, and mentorship to aid children in succeeding both in school and in society.
Since starting the Foundation, McLaurin has spearheaded a diverse range of programming to deliver excitement to and offer resources for DMV youth. In addition to tentpole events around the holidays and back to school, the Foundation established the "Dream Catchers Fund" to help fulfill special requests for disadvantaged youth so that they don't feel sidelined by not having items like prom dresses, art supplies, or sports equipment.
Beginning with his birthday last year, which also served as the Foundation's launch, McLaurin partnered with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for Children D.C. and Big Brothers Big Sisters National Capital Area to treat kids to a special celebration and gifted each child in attendance with a pair of new shoes. He was named the NFLPA Community MVP that week.
During the 2022 season, McLaurin, through his foundation, hosted powerful giveback initiatives, including a Thanksgiving meal distribution for foster families as well as an intimate holiday shopping spree at Target in Washington, D.C. As part of the shopping spree, each child in attendance from the Rychkid Foundation was given a $150 gift card and had a chance shop for themselves and buy a loved one a special gift. He has continued those initiatives as this year's holiday season gets underway.
During his first Pro Bowl last season in Las Vegas, McLaurin spent his free time participating in the league-led community initiative at the Boys & Girls Club of Southern Nevada, where he refurbished indoor and outdoor areas of the facility and participated in Play 60 activities with kids.
This past summer, McLaurin held his first-ever football camp in Washington, D.C. Partnering with Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the District of Columbia State Athletic Association, McLaurin hosted nearly 200 kids between the ages of 7 and 14 at a free camp. The wide receiver connected with the kids personally, and they all went home with a signed gameday photo. Additionally, in conjunction with the NFLPA, he participated in a virtual reading for kids, and he partnered up with Big Brothers Big Sisters National Capital Area to give a number of local kids a free bike. McLaurin then capped off the summer with a back-to-school event for teachers from James McHenry Elementary School and Wheatley Education Campus. He surprised the teachers by purchasing everything off their wish lists to start the school year.
The 2023 season has seen additional impactful Terry McLaurin Foundation initiatives come to life. All proceeds from his breakfast cereal "Terry McLaurin's Crunch Time Flakes," created in collaboration with PLB Sports & Entertainment, go to the Foundation. Beginning this season, at every Commanders home game, the "Terry's Team" initiative gives four different guests the gameday experience of a lifetime, with perks that include a pregame meet and greet on the field with McLaurin, free tickets and parking, food vouchers, and more.
On the field McLaurin has been the team's number one wide receiver since entering the league in 2019 and has recorded three consecutive 1,000-plus yard receiving seasons, one of three receivers in franchise history to accomplish that feat. In 2022, McLaurin was named to his first Pro Bowl after accumulating 1,191 receiving yards and averaging 15.5 yards per catch.
"The Walter Payton Man of the Year honor holds a special place in my heart. As a former teammate and friend of Walter Payton, I know how big of an honor being the team nominee is. It has been a pleasure to see how much Terry has grown as a leader in the community since I arrived here in the DMV," said Head Coach Ron Rivera. "Terry's impact on his team and community is very similar to that of Walter's to the Bears and Chicago community. He possesses all the characteristics and traits of being worthy of the nomination."
As a nominee, McLaurin 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.
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.
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, the sponsor of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
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 last 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.