It was all for a good cause—$20,000 to the foundation of the winner’s choice courtesy of Nationwide.
It was the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Charity Challenge, and through people using the unique hashtags that were given to each of the 32 nominees across the NFL, the month-long contest ended on December 31 with a fury of support for Kansas City Chiefs safety
What happened across social media platforms wasn’t unlike the kind of comebacks we’ve seen from Berry over the past year—both on the field as well as off of it.
We also saw Berry help lead the Chiefs back from of a 1-5 deficit to begin the season, all the way to a franchise-record 10-straight wins and a playoff berth—something only one other team in NFL history has ever done.
Ask anyone in that locker room who motivated them every day as they fought back to relevance and they’ll tell you “EB” without hesitating.
We all watched from the sidelines as Berry, both as a man and then again as a football player, fought his way back to the field. Once he was on the field, he continued fighting back to his prominent position as one of the NFL’s premier defensive backs.
And then finally thanks to Nationwide putting on this contest, the members of Chiefs Kingdom and those around the country enthralled in his story of strength and perseverance were given their opportunity to show Berry how he’s inspired them.
Finally, the burden of inspiration was in the other hand.
As of Tuesday, December 29, Berry had 36,114 votes and trailed the leader, who at the time had just shy of 70,000.
Berry was in second place and was almost doubled up with less than 48 hours remaining in the contest, so the odds for him to win weren’t in his favor.
But the odds for Berry to return from cancer to go to the Pro Bowl and the Chiefs to make the playoffs after starting 1-5 probably weren’t in their favor either, but they both happened.
Never count out those who believe in what they’re doing.
As to be expected, Chiefs Kingdom rallied behind Eric Berry’s story and a late effort spurred by those inside of One Arrowhead Drive and others from around the country led to an improbable win on his behalf.
In less than 48 hours, Berry went from trailing by almost 34,000 votes to winning by less than 3,000, with a total of a little more than 94,000.
As a whole, the contest accumulated around 450,000 votes in total, which means Berry carried more than 20 percent of the total votes.
That’s what Chiefs Kingdom does.
When they were given the opportunity, they once again reminded everyone of the kind of support they’ll throw behind one of their own.
I'll say it again! #BerryWPMOYChallenge please tweet & retweet! Thanks!— Rob Riggle (@RobRiggle) December 31, 2015
Okay thanks guys. Sorry I blew up your feeds. rt this for me as an acceptance of my apology. #BerryWPMOYChallenge— Eric Stonestreet (@ericstonestreet) December 31, 2015
Jeremy Maclin(@jmac___19) December 31, 2015
Eric Berry is up for Walter Payton Man of the Year. No explanation needed. #BerryWPMOYChallenge.— Eric Hosmer (@TheRealHos35) December 18, 2015
It was an amazing comeback that all became possible because of those who made the effort to show their support for Berry by promoting the hashtag on social media.
This contest, in some small way, was an opportunity for everyone to show Berry that they’re behind him, that they support him and that they will stand with him.
RELATED: Eric Berry: Our Man of the Year
Here’s Eric Berry’s statement upon winning the contest:
“I’m humbled by the overwhelming amount of support from Chiefs Kingdom, Vol Nation, family, friends and those across the country. This community has rallied for me since the day I was drafted here, and I am truly grateful to receive this honor. Seeing all of those hashtags was incredible. I can’t thank everyone enough.
“Additionally, I’d like to thank Nationwide for the $20,000 donation to the Eric Berry Foundation. The funds will be used to continue our mission of providing opportunities and safe environments for kids in sports.”
“It opens your eyes, first of all. It doesn’t matter what team or what organization it was for, it just opens your eyes to a group of people and a community that an all-for-one goal can come together and [they are] able to help someone out for a great cause. I know [EB] will do great things with the money and hopefully he goes on to win the Man of the Year award.”
“The support that I’ve known to have from Chiefs Kingdom and the Kansas City community is overwhelming. When I first got here in ‘05, I saw the support these fans have for the Chiefs and this organization is unbelievable. And for our brother, Eric Berry, to win this Man of the Year social media contest, and to be down like he was in the voting, for everybody to support him, I mean I’m sure it was more than just Chiefs people supporting him in this fight right here—we’re proud of him, man. He deserves that and even more.”
Chiefs WR Jeremy Maclin
“That’s big time, man. I think the type of inspiration he is and to go through what he’s going through and to be able to still, even throughout that process, do the things he’s done and carry himself a certain type of way, I think speaks volumes. I think that’s what Chiefs Kingdom rallies around. I think they appreciate it and cherish it, and he’s earned it. I think Chiefs Kingdom’s recognized that.”
“I just think the fans, this city and this team just support him so much and everything that he does. What he did inspired a lot of people. He means a lot to this city and it showed.”
“Amazing amount of support. I mean they do that with pretty much everything, anything that you put Chiefs Kingdom on, whether it’s on Twitter or Instagram—people talk back to you and I like that about them, but’s just all support from them—all positive support.”
If at any point during the month of December, you used that hashtag, then you were a part of assisting Berry in continuing to do what he does best—helping others with the platform he’s been given as an NFL superstar.