“I am happy to announce that Jonathan Jones is the Patriots selection for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award,” said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. “Jonathan has been a tremendous ambassador for the Patriots since he joined the team as a rookie free agent in 2016. Every year, his role and contributions have grown, both on the field and in the community. He started the Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation to positively impact the lives of youth in his New England and Georgia communities through education and mentorship. He became the first male ambassador for ‘iPlay Like a Girl’ through his advocacy for women and girls in sports, and he continues to empower young women to excel in STEM fields. I am proud to have him represent the New England Patriots as this year’s nominee”
As a nominee, Jones will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
Additionally, the Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation became an agency for the Food Bank of East Alabama, contributing to the fight against hunger. His philanthropy was recognized when the Mayor of Auburn, Alabama declared “Jonathan Jones Next Step Foundation Day.” Jones generously donated $5,000 to the Auburn Sustenance Program, aiding students in need. He was also awarded the “Friend of the Child” by the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children for his contributions in the Boston community. He hosted a fundraiser for the Auburn Sustenance Program and was named a top five finalist for the prestigious Alan Page Community Award. His dedication to youth development was evident through his fourth annual football camp for young athletes. Further, he spoke on a panel addressing the racial wealth divide at the Apollo Theatre. In 2023, Jones founded the Trojan Student-Athlete Development Fund with a $100,000 naming gift, emphasizing practical life education, professional development, mentorship, character development, leadership, and healthy lifestyles. Lastly, he engaged with children at the Fanatics and New England Patriots Merch Madness, organizing football activities and distributing merchandise, highlighting his dedication to community engagement and empowerment.
“It’s an honor any time that you are recognized for the work that you do, even when it’s something like this that you don’t do for recognition,” said Jonathan Jones. “It’s always an honor to be recognized and to continue to go out there and help more people.”
All 32 nominees will be recognized for their achievements during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII. The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally on CBS on Thursday, Feb. 8.
Each nominee will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are made possible by the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
This year, fans are once again encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s annual Charity Challenge, a social media and online contest that allows fans to show support for their favorite Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Fans can vote on X (formerly Twitter) by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with the last name/X handle of their chosen nominee or by voting directly on NFL.com/ManOfTheYear. In cases where multiple nominees share the same last name (i.e. Justin Jones and Jonathan Jones), all valid votes on X must include the #WPMOYChallenge hashtag and the nominee’s handle or full name.
The nominee who receives the most collective hashtag mentions and votes will win an additional $35,000 donation from Nationwide to the charity of their choice, with the runner-up receiving $10,000 and the third-place winner receiving $5,000. Charity Challenge voting takes place from Dec. 5 to Jan. 8.