The NFL has announced the three finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which "recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence."
Raiders CB Nnamdi Asomugha, Bears DE Israel Idonije and Vikings FS Madieu Williams are the three finalists; the winner will be announced prior to Super Bowl XLV in Arlington, Texas.
Asomugha, a four-time Pro Bowler, serves as chairman of the Asomugha Foundation, where he works to enhance the two key programs, OWIN and ACTS. OWIN, Orphans and Widows in Need, supports women and children in Nigeria and provides food, shelter, medicine, vocational training, literacy efforts and scholarships. ACTS, the Asomugha College Tour for Scholars, was created in 2007 and is an annual college tour and mentoring program which provides high-achieving high-school students of color the opportunity to visit college campuses across the country. To date, ACTS has provided 36 students with opportunity to tour colleges and universities in Atlanta, Boston, New York, and Washington.
Idonije had his best season as a pro in 2010, tying for the team lead in sacks and forced fumbles, tied for second in QB pressures and second in tackles. Off the field he works with the Israel Idonije Foundation (IIF), which he created in 2007. Idonije's First Down Attendance Program currently serves more than 600 economically disadvantaged students in five schools in Chicago and Manitoba, Canada. Designed to encourage and sustain students' regular school attendance, high achievement and good citizenship, the program motivates and rewards students. Participating schools have increased student's regular attendance by at least 8 percent. Idonije is a two-time NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
Williams came to the Vikings as a free agent in 2008 and has been a stalwart in the defensive backfield, starting 38 of his 39 games and notching a career-best 96 tackles in 2010. His' charitable works have achieved had great impact worldwide. Locally, he works with the YMCAs, the United Way and Harvest Prep/Seed Academy, providing season tickets for the kids in his "Dieu's Crew" program. Globally, Williams made a $2 million donation to create the Madieu Williams Center for Global Health at the University of Maryland, where he attended college. The center will address public health issues in Prince George's County and Sierra Leone, where Williams was born. He has already built a primary school in the African nation and is now building a secondary school there as well. His foundation sponsored a mission to Sierra Leone that brought American teachers, surgeons and dentists to help educate the teachers at his school, give free dental cleanings to all of the students and provide free surgeries.
The 2009 winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award was Brian Waters of the Chiefs.