Tempe, AZ – The Arizona Cardinals Football Club today announced that running back David Johnson has been named the “Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.”
The award is in recognition of outstanding community service activities off the field as well as excellence on the field. Johnson will receive a donation of up to $50,000 in his name to a charity of his choice, and as a nominee, Johnson will also receive two Super Bowl LIV tickets to give to community recipients of his choice.
Johnson is one of 32 NFL “Man of the Year” recipients to qualify for the league’s national 2019 “Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year” award. For the second consecutive year, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as finalists and recognized for their important work during the week leading up to Super Bowl LIV. The 2019 Walter Payton NFL “Man of the Year” will be announced during NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV, on FOX. The winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.
Johnson and all other “Man of the Year” nominees will wear a helmet decal beginning this weekend through the end of the season to recognize their accomplishments on and off the field. Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and the other five current players (Drew Brees, Thomas Davis, Eli Manning, J.J. Watt and Jason Witten) who have previously been named the national “Man of the Year” will continue wear a jersey patch to recognize their outstanding contributions to the game and community.
In 2017, Johnson and his wife, Meghan, established the “Johnson Family’s Mission 31 Foundation” to provide opportunities and resources to seriously ill children and their families by offering daily support and life changing experiences. David, who attended school to be a physical education teacher, and Meghan, who studied nursing with the goal of working in child oncology, both carry out the mission of their foundation with a longstanding motivation to impact the lives of children.
The Johnsons have partnered with Valley pediatric hospitals and elementary schools to launch their foundation’s flagship outreach program, “David’s Locker,” a mobile cart containing electronic devices including iPads, laptops, gaming consoles, e-readers and assorted video games. Each locker offers entertainment, education, a communication portal or a much-needed distraction for patients and their families who may be enduring some of the most challenging times in their lives. The first David’s Locker was unveiled at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in April of 2018, and the foundation estimates 1 million individuals – patients and their family members included – will have accessed a David’s Locker by the end of this year.
Bullying prevention is another cause particularly meaningful to Johnson, who has long been open about his struggles as a bullied child. In 2016, he authored a The Players’ Tribune article headlined “Let’s Talk About Bullying” in which he shared his experience and detailed his work with “STOMP Out Bullying.” In 2017, Johnson partnered with Cox Communications to host nearly 500 children from four Valley school districts for the “Run Thru Bullying” campaign.
Throughout his time in Arizona, Johnson has been a regular volunteer at community service events such as school trips, kids camps and hospital visits. Last year, he participated in the Campbell's Day of Reading event at Pueblo Elementary School as the team donated 1,000 books and a pallet of Campbell's soup to the school, and during the 2016 holiday season, he helped deliver personalized Cardinals teddy bears to children in the pediatric units at Phoenix Children’s Hospital as part of the Cardinals “Teddy Bear Express.”
He also attended the team’s annual Christmas Party that year at Boys Hope Girls Hope, an organization helping academically capable and motivated children by providing family-like homes, opportunities and education through college. Johnson has also visited the Phoenix Ronald McDonald House for the “Feed the Families” event, which provides dinner, drinks and dessert to children and their families, and returned for the “Light the House” party, in which all of the houses were lit with holiday lights and children received dinner, drinks and stockings for the holidays.
For more information on Johnson’s foundation and community work, visit www.davidjohnson31.org/.