The Chicago Bears have nominated outside linebacker Sam Acho for the Walter Payton Man Of The Year award, saying “He is a shining example of a man of character and integrity.”
All 32 teams have one nominee and there will be 3 finalists selected with the winner being announced in Houston at NFL Honors, which is a a two hour primetime awards special that airs nationally on February 4, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. (ET and PT) on FOX.
"We're proud to honor these outstanding men who represent the NFL's best on and off the field," said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. "Our players have a unique platform to make a difference far beyond the field of play. We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts.”
Acho met the media today and was honored upon receiving news of his nomination. "For me to win this award, I would be speechless, which is rare for me." Just for being nominated Acho received $50,000 for Living Hope Ministries, which is his parents' charity.
Here’s some of what the Bears had to say about Acho.
Each year, Sam joins his family on medical mission trips to Nigeria, and currently is raising money to build hospitals there through Living Hope Christian Ministries, an organization founded by his parents Dr. Sonny and Christie Acho. Each year, Sam joins his family and others, including teammates, on mission trips that provide ongoing assistance to those who otherwise don't have access to quality medical care.
Sam also annually hosts "Hope for Life Celebrity Auction and Fashion Show" with proceeds going directly toward the goal of building the hospital that will serve over 3,000 residents in remote villages. As a public speaker, he enjoys opportunities to encourage and inspire others to fulfill their calling by following Christ and serving others. Highly active in the community since he began playing in the NFL, Sam has always participated in hospital visits and school visits. Some of the ways Sam has supported the community include the following. As a Chicago Bears spokesman for Fuel Up to Play 60, Sam visited Illinois school children to encourage them to continue the program in their schools. He was also a key speaker at the Fuel Up to Play 60 Reward Summit held at Halas Hall. In support of the Chicago Bears "Bear Hugs" program, Sam frequently visits patients at local Chicago children's hospitals to deliver teddy bears and blankets, and typically brings his teammates to take part in the visits with him.
Sam also brightens the lives of children who visit Halas Hall as part of the Bears wish granting program. After the opportunity to watch the team practice, the kids get autographs and pose for pictures with their favorite players. Sam makes a point to have meaningful conversations with each child and typically gives them the gloves or cleats that he has worn that day in practice. In conjunction with the American Heart Association, the Bears Football for Heart program encourages kids to be active, learn football basics and raise money for the AHA. Sam visited Woodland Intermediate and spoke to the kids about the importance of being active and giving back. In addition, Sam served as the keynote speaker at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America's national "Youth of the Year" celebration.
The last Bear to win the award was Charles Tillman in 2013.
Acho, a six year veteran, is in his 2nd season with the Bears. Former Bears’ Greg Olsen and Brandon Marshall are nominated by the Panthers and Jets respectively.