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Birk, Rivers, Tillman named Walter Payton Man of the Year finalists

San Diego Chargers v Denver Broncos Getty Images

Ravens center Matt Birk, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers and Bears cornerback Charles Tillman are the finalists for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which recognizes players who combine community service with strong play on the field.

Birk has started 96 consecutive games, the NFL’s second-longest active streak for a center. Birk’s “Ready, Set, Read!” program urges children in the Baltimore area to read at home, and his advocacy for research into the effects of concussions includes pledging his brain and spinal cord tissue to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University’s School of Medicine.

Rivers just completed his fourth consecutive 4,000-yard passing season, and he and his wife founded The Rivers of Hope Foundation in 2010, which helps abandoned and orphaned children find loving homes. Rivers has pledged to donate all of his off-field earnings to the foundation.

Tillman, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl this season, founded the Charles Tillman Cornerstone, which aims to improve the lives of critically and chronically ill children. Tillman’s infant daughter received a heart transplant in 2008, and he advocated for FDA approval of the Berlin Heart, a device which helped save his daughter’s life and has since been approved.

The winner of the award will be announced on NFL Honors, an awards show airing on NBC the night before the Super Bowl.

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15 Responses to “Birk, Rivers, Tillman named Walter Payton Man of the Year finalists”
  1. jharmon64 says: Jan 22, 2012 5:35 PM

    I understand what this award is for, but having Rivers associated with Payton’s name doesn’t seem right to me. Payton was a class act on the field and Rivers is clearly not.

  2. sdelmonte says: Jan 22, 2012 5:51 PM

    I wonder if Birk has recruited his teammate, so he can do a “Ready, Set, Reed” day.

  3. purple4reak says: Jan 22, 2012 6:05 PM

    Atta-boy Birky! We still miss ya in MN! Birk leaving is reason #243 to look back in disgust at Childress’ time here.

  4. lanzurrah says: Jan 22, 2012 7:46 PM

    Nice to see Rivers as a finalist. Super nice guy off the field, great competitor on the field. Awesome family man!

  5. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:00 PM

    I watched Phillip Rivers scream until his face was red and his veins popped out at Jay Cutler. He is nothing like Walter Payton and never will be. Birk should win this.

  6. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:01 PM

    Phillip Rivers shouldn’t even be mentioned let alone win this award.

  7. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:01 PM

    Rivers should not win this.. EVER

  8. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:02 PM

    It’s a sad day in the NFL when Rivers is a finalist for this award. there are so many people who would be better than him

  9. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:03 PM

    Rivers is a bad sport.

  10. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:03 PM

    I liked the chargers until they got Rivers.. he’s horrible

  11. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:04 PM

    Rivers is one of the biggest babies in the NFL

  12. matthewcarlson1 says: Jan 22, 2012 8:08 PM

    Rivers doesn’t deserve to be in the same sentence at Birk

  13. flipper9494 says: Jan 22, 2012 11:26 PM

    Gee, do you think Matthewcarlson doesn’t like Philip Rivers? Do you think that posting tons of negative comments changes the fact that he is a good player and a better philanthropist?

    I think you are the big baby as you have to post over and over until your pathetic voice is heard.

    Frankly, all three finalists do great work and any one of them are deserving. I think Rivers devotes a ton of time and money to his cause and should win and be placed alongside the great name of Walter Payton.

    Let’s rise above the junk comments and rate these players based on their contributions and not your personal feelings.

  14. CKL says: Jan 23, 2012 1:48 AM

    I saw a piece on the Tillmans and their daughter. So heartwrenching. Congrats to all these men. The good stories should garner more attention than the bad.

  15. r8rh8r says: Jan 23, 2012 12:45 PM

    Let’s just hope Norv Turner doesn’t have his hand in any of Rivers’ off the field foundations; he would manage to make such a beneficial and genuinely nice thing a failure…

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