San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin was announced Saturday as the winner of the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award at the NFL Honors night.
Boldin, a finalist for the award last year, was named as the winner among fellow finalists New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and New Orleans Saints tight end Benjamin Watson.
"I'm beyond humbled to be selected as the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year,” Boldin said in a statement released through the 49ers. “I used to dream that I could play like Walter Payton when I was growing up, but he became even more of an inspiration to me as I learned about his legacy as a humanitarian. I commend the other 31 finalists throughout the National Football League who continue to use this platform to influence the lives of others in a positive way. May we continue to open our hearts and make an impact in our communities and throughout this world.”
The award is given to the player who best exhibits a commitment to philanthropy and community impact as well as excellence on the football field.
The Anquan Boldin Foundation awarded five $10,000 scholarships to high school students in Florida and San Francisco. His annual Q-Festival raised more than $100,000 in April.
[MAIOCCO: Boldin named finalist for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year]
“I probably get more out of it than they do, just to see the smile on their faces and the hope in their eyes," Boldin said on Friday. "That means the world to me."
Boldin and his wife, Dionne, also donated $1 million in 2014 for future scholarships. The NFLPA last year awarded Boldin and his foundation $100,000 for winning the Byron “Whizzer” White Award. Boldin’s foundation was also awarded $25,000 for being named a 2015 Sports Humanitarian of the Year Award finalist, the only NFL player to be acknowledged.
Since 2010, Boldin has worked with Oxfam America, taking trips to Ethiopia and Senegal and given testimony at the White House to lobby Senegalese rights.
Boldin, 35, a 13-year NFL veteran, has played the past three seasons with the 49ers. He led the team in receiving in each of the past three seasons. Boldin had 69 catches for 789 yards and four touchdowns last season.
“Anquan Boldin is a tremendous example of a professional athlete who has used the platform the National Football League affords him to positively impact the lives of others,” 49ers CEO Jed York said in a statement. “The diversity of his philanthropic efforts and the hands-on approach he takes to providing for those who cannot provide for themselves is widely respected throughout professional sports. Anquan has been a great ambassador for the San Francisco 49ers, and we congratulate him on being named this year’s Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.”