INDIANAPOLIS–The Indianapolis Colts nominated linebacker Zaire Franklin to be their nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
There are 32 nominees, one from each team, and the winner will be announced during NFL Honors on Feb. 8. The award is considered to be the NFL’s most prestigious honor. It acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game.
“The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award is the league’s most prestigious honor given annually to the player who best represents the greatness and compassion of Walter Payton on and off the field,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a news release. “These 32 outstanding men are making a valuable difference in their communities every day and we are proud to celebrate their special gifts and humanitarianism.”
As of this writing, Franklin is second in the NFL in tackles with 130. He also has 1.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.
“As professional athletes, it is our responsibility and our duty to inspire and encourage change not only in our own community, but also our entire country,” said Franklin in a previous speech that was re-aired on the Colts social media accounts.
Franklin has set up a foundation called Shelice’s Angels. It’s named after his late mother, Shelice. Through that foundation, Franklin has hosted workshops, seminars and trips designed to give young women the tools, confidence and role models they need to succeed as professionals. Franklin founded Shelice’s Angels in 2019.
He’s also hosted financial literacy seminars – including one last spring at Lucas Oil Stadium. After his grandmother died, Franklin said he had to learn how to budget while in “survival mode.” He later got a degree in finance from Syracuse and likes to share his financial tips with people who need them.
Franklin also hosted a Thanksgiving Impact Program in November with the Boys and Girls Club of Indianapolis.
In October, Franklin hosted a fundraiser at Hoagies and Hops to benefit Shelice’s Angels.
“I’m just trying to continue to pass the torch and help those who are less fortunate than me and the lessons I learned from powerful women. We’ve got great cheesesteaks, great hoagies, and great beer, but I’m not drinking tonight. I got practice tomorrow,” said Franklin to a crowd that quickly applauded him that October evening.
Franklin was drafted by the Colts in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft.
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