On Sunday afternoon, Panthers tight end Greg Olsen was announced as one of three finalists for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Olsen is joined by New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.
The award recognizes an NFL player each year for both excellence on the field and in giving back to the community.
Olsen certainly checks both boxes. He became the first tight end in NFL history to record three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons, is a three-time Pro-Bowler and supports numerous charities in Charlotte and beyond.
He created Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation in 2009 after watching his mother battle breast cancer, and The HEARTest Yard, a foundation he created with his wife, Kara. The two began The HEARTest Yard in 2013 after it was discovered during a checkup that the Olsens’ unborn son, T.J. had a rare condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. T.J. survived a series of surgeries and, at 4 years old, is still the inspiration for the program, which provides support for other families impacted by the congenital heart disease.
The Receptions for Research and The HEARTest Yard foundations have donated over $1.2 million to Charlotte’s Levine Children’s Hospital since their inceptions, according to Olsen.
Earlier this month, Olsen earned a $25,000 donation from the Charity Challenge (which he donated to the Levine Children’s Hospital) by getting more than 1.2 million uses on Twitter of the hashtag #OlsenWPMOYChallenge. The event sparked responses from thousands of fans, his teammates and even celebrities William Shatner and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. He and his wife pledged to match each retweet with $1 up to $25,000.
The winner of the award will be announced during NFL Honors on the eve of the Super Bowl on February 4 (8-10 p.m. ET/PT on FOX). Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis earned the honors two years ago.