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Walter Payton Award Finalists Announced

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Walter Payton

    The finalists for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award were announced on Tuesday.

    The award, which has been around since Johnny Unitas won the inaugural award in 1970, has since been named for the late Walter Payton, who retired as the NFL's all-time leading rusher and died in 1999. It is the only NFL award that recognizes players not only for their on-field performance, but also for their community involvement and off-field contributions.

    The award will be given away at Super Bowl XLV.

    Each NFL team nominates one player and then a committee comprised of NFL commish Roger Goodell, former commish Paul Tagliabue, Walter's wife, Connie Payton, Frank Gifford, Anthony Munoz, NFL Alumni Association Director George Martin, last year's winner Brian Waters and Sports Illustrated's Peter King.

    The finalists for the award are Oakland Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, Chicago Bears defensive end Israel Idonije and Minnesota Vikings safety Madieu Williams.

    The Cowboys' nominee was tight end Jason Witten.

    Asomugha fronts his own organization, which among other things helps orphans and widows in Nigeria, as well as serving as a national spokesman for the United Way's "Live United" campaign.

    Idonije, a Nigerian-Canadian, also has his own organization, which does community work in the United States, Canada and Africa.

    Williams donated $2 million to his alma mater to create the Madieu Williams Center for Global Heath at the University of Maryland, and has taken American doctors and teachers to his native war-torn Sierra Leone.

    The only Cowboys to ever win the award are perhaps the two most revered Cowboys in history. Troy Aikman won the award in 1997 and Roger Staubach won the award in 1978.