JJ Watt wins Walter Payton Man of the Year award

HOUSTON – Houston's J.J. Watt won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award Saturday night. 

Established in 1970, the award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field, according to the NFL.

READ MORE: Here's a list of all the previous Walter Payton Man of the Year award recipients

Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community. Representing Houston is Watt, who is known around the world for his fundraising efforts to counter the devastation left by Hurricane Harvey.

He raised more than $37 million in 19 days. Watt was dedicated to finding a trusting organization that would handle the funds as he promised to Harvey victims that every dollar will go directly to the people in the Houston area.

Watt is the first Houston Texan to receive the award since the program's inception.

VIDEO: JJ Watt's anticipation for NFL Honors on red carpet interview

"$500,000 will be donated in the name of the 2017 winner. $250,000 will be donated to the winner's charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country. The two other finalists will each receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice and a $100,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All other 29 nominees will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide," the NFL said.

VIDEO: JJ Watt speaks after winning Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

Save the Children President and CEO Carolyn Miles released the following statement:

“Congratulations to J.J. Watt on this well-deserved recognition. We are thrilled to see the NFL recognize J.J. for his leadership both on and off the field. He inspires all those around him, including his teammates and fans, to give whatever they can for the greater good.  

"As one of four organizations selected to team up with his foundation on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts, Save the Children is incredibly grateful to J.J. and all those who generously donated to his campaign.

"These funds are helping Save the Children, which has been on the ground in Texas since before Harvey made landfall, tackle the critical issue of restoring child care, early learning centers and afterschool programs that were damaged or destroyed by the historic storm. All of us at Save the Children are so very proud of you, J.J.!”


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Truly humbled and honored. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Watt (@jjwatt) on


Houstonians reaction to Watt's win

Watt already had a huge fan base, which only grew after Hurricane Harvey due to his humanitarian efforts. 

On Saturday night, Watt once again made Houston proud by winning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in Minneapolis.

“There’s no better person, no better person to win the award," said fan Aaron Kehler.

Watt beat out dozens of other finalists who were nominated for their positive impact on their communities.

“Everything that you do on the field pales in comparison to what you do off the field,” said Watt as he accepted his award. “And at the end of my life if I'm remembered as a football player and a good football player and that’s all I’m remembered for, than I did a poor job in my life.”

His Houston fan base said Watt was always their man of the year. 

Now, it’s official.

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