The Chiefs recently announced that LB Tamba Hali is this year's team nominee for the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. Hali is joined by candidates from each NFL team in consideration for this distinguished accolade.
A selection panel, will announce three finalists later this month. The winner will be announced at the fourth annual NFL Honors show in Phoenix, AZ, the site of Super Bowl XLIX.
The 2014 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner will receive a $25,000 donation from both the NFL Foundation and Nationwide in his name to a charity of his choice. The other two finalists will receive a $5,000 donation in their names, while the other 29 nominees will receive a $1,000 donation to their selected charities.
"We are very proud to have Tamba represent the Chiefs Kingdom as this year's nominee for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award," Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt said. "As a player, with his teammates and in the communities he serves, Tamba demonstrates tremendous heart. He does not seek personal recognition for his tireless hard work. He prefers action over words. So, we are delighted to see him nominated for one of the most prestigious honors in our game."
Hali's never-quit motor and pure passion has served him well on the football field. In the years since being selected 20th overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, he has fine-tuned his game, transforming himself into one of the league's most feared pass rushers.
Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Tamba Hali 91
His 79.5 career sacks rank third in team history behind only franchise LB Derrick Thomas and DE Neil Smith. He joins Thomas, Smith and LB Justin Houston as the only players in franchise history to have at least three seasons with double-digit sack totals (2010, 2011, 2013). Additionally, this game changer has forced 31 fumbles as a professional, a figure only Thomas has eclipsed in a Kansas City uniform. He registered a conference-leading 14.5 sacks in 2010 and went on to capture three consecutive Pro Bowl berths following the 2011, 2012 and 2013 seasons.
Off of the field, Hali is just as unyielding when it comes to assisting others. That mindset was instilled during his childhood. Hali's homeland of Liberia trudged through a bloody civil war for most of his adolescence. So, at the age of 10 he left Africa to live with his father, Henry, who had earlier fled to America. Yet, the shy Hali never forgot his roots.
"I am a Liberian; I spent about ten years in Liberia," Hali noted. "I've been blessed to live in this country, to have an education and play this wonderful sport."
This October, he joined with Heart to Heart International, a global humanitarian aid organization, to announce the construction of a 70-bed Ebola treatment unit in Africa for those stricken by the disease. Hali personally donated $50,000, which financed more than half of the project. He's also using his star status to spread the word about this dire need.
Kansas City Chiefs LB Tamba Hali, a Liberian native, joins local nonprofit Heart to Heart International Inc. as it announces plans to open and operate an Ebola Treatment Unit in Liberia on October 7, 2014
This clinic is just the latest in Hali's continued support of his economically depressed birthplace. He has partnered with his mother, Rachel, on multiple occasions to get vital supplies, clothing and other necessities distributed in West Africa. Such relief efforts have become common for Hali to finance as he knows the desolate poverty many hailing from this war-torn region have endured.
Hali's giving nature isn't confined to international aid. His well-rounded approach has also seen him become a go-to member of the local community. He has teamed with Kansas City's Bishop Sullivan Center to purchase and serve meals, focusing on sustainable food made with healthy ingredients.He also frequently assists families tied to this support agency, such as donating a dining table so a family can eat together or new clothes so another can look the part at a job interview.
Hali has also given back to his alma mater, Teaneck High School, in Teaneck, N.J., donating shoes for the entire football program, financing the school's freshman football team with a $15,000 gift and donating $40,000 to finish off its Athletic Hall of Fame.
"I'm honored to be nominated for such a prestigious award," Hali said. "The Kansas City community means a lot to me. Our fan base has given me and my family a tremendous amount of support over the years, and I'm going to give back as much as I can. I'm thankful to even be considered among the other five Chiefs greats that have won this award."
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, named for the legendary Chicago Bears running back, is unique among league honors as it represents the only league award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. While the accolade has been bestowed annually since 1970, no franchise has garnered more honorees than the Chiefs. Former Kansas City players who have taken home the Gladiator statue include LB Willie Lanier, QB Len Dawson (1973), LB Derrick Thomas (1993), G Will Shields (2003) and G Brian Waters (2009).
This year's winner will be announced at the fourth annual NFL Honors show in Phoenix, AZ. The selection panel is comprised of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell; former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue; Connie Payton, widow of Walter Payton; Pro Football Hall of Fame members Frank Gifford and Anthony Munoz; 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner Charles Tillman; and Sports Illustrated writer Peter King.
From all of us at the Chiefs, we are extremely proud of Tamba Hali and thankful for his kind heart and generosity in the community. Congratulations Tamba!