Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho has been named a finalist for the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the league announced in a press release on Thursday night.
The award, named after the legendary Bears running back, is given to the NFL player who best represents the NFL’s commitment to helping out their community through philanthropic deeds. Each team has one representative, and the winner will be awarded $500,000 to their charity of choice on the NFL Honors awards special on February 3.
This marks the second season in a row that Acho has been Chicago’s representative for the award. Ever since he was 12 years old, the veteran has traveled to Nigeria almost every summer and has helped Living Hope Christian Ministries, a foundation created by Acho’s parents, Dr. Sonny and Christy Acho, provide medical help to Nigerians suffering from diseases.
The linebacker spoke about this nomination and how honored he was to receive it in a press conference.
“The Walter Payton Man of the Year award means everything to me, especially to win it for the second year in a row,” Acho said. “This is my seventh year in the NFL and in seven years you go through a lot of ups and downs, wins and losses. I’ve been in the playoffs, I’ve had a lot of good and bad happen. But this is definitely a highlight for me.”
Acho is also an avid participant in the Bears School Outreach program. He has provided service for the Cornerstone Community Outreach, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Chicago and the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls, among others.
Were Acho to win the award, he would be the sixth Chicago Bear to ever win the award, the most recent being Charles Tillman in 2013.