Carolina Panthers

Greg Olsen is Panthers’ Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for third straight year

Will the third time be the charm for Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen?

On Thursday night, Olsen was named as one of 32 nominees for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which is given to a player who is known for stellar performance both on the field and in the community.

“I am extremely grateful and honored to be nominated for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award,” Olsen said in a statement. “I am thankful the NFL allows its players to use their platforms to advocate on behalf of causes that mean a great deal to them on a personal level. I would also like to recognize all of the other Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees for their efforts to impact their own communities through initiatives close to their own heart. It is humbling to be nominated for such a prestigious award and to honor the legacy of Walter and the entire Payton family.”

It is the third consecutive honor for Olsen, who was a finalist last year. Two other players, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, were co-recipients of the award.

Olsen won the award’s congruent “charity challenge,” which gave the player with the most mentions regarding the honor on Twitter $25,000 to donate to the charity of his choice.

He gave the money to the Receptions for Research: The Greg Olsen Foundation, which is an umbrella to Olsen’s “HEARTest Yard” charitable partnership with the Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.

Olsen began the “HEARTest Yard” in 2013 after the revelation that his son T.J. had hypoplastic left heart syndrome. The program provides families of babies affected by congenital heart disease with in-home services and aid at no cost to the families, and has distributed almost $2 million.

Last month, Olsen and his wife, Kara, announced the launch of a new cardiac neurodevelopmental program through Levine that will provide extended care to children born with congenital heart disease. They also gave the program a head start with a $750,000 donation.

Teammate Thomas Davis was the 2014 recipient of the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Finalists will be announced in January, while the winner will be revealed on Feb. 3, the eve of Super Bowl LII.

Jourdan Rodrigue: 704-358-5071, @jourdanrodrigue

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