Good Company

Thirty-two players are vying for the 2002 title of NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, the only league award that recognizes player off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence. This year's finalist from the <!--Default NodeId For Chicago is 115,2005--><A HREF=>Bears</A> is <!--Default NodeId For Phillip Daniels is 292198,2002--><A HREF=[PlayerNode:292198]>Phillip Daniels</A>.

Bears defensive end has demonstrated an outstanding balance in his life between civic and professional responsibilities. He supports several worthwhile causes by volunteering his time and energy to a number of local charities. Daniels assisted the Greater Chicago Food Depository last month by preparing food packages that were distributed to local food pantries. He inspected and repacked food along an assembly line and loaded items into boxes for area soup kitchens, shelters and pantries.

"This is just something I love doing," Daniels said while volunteering at the Greater Chicago Food Depository. "I love helping the community. On my day off I always try to find something to do. That's what we need to do-give back to the community. That's what it's all about. The community is our fans and if we can go and do great things like this and help out, I feel great about it."

The holidays were a time for Daniels to give back off the field. Throughout the month of December he adopted a family and provided coats and clothing for them and assisted the family in finding improved housing.

In addition, Phillip Daniels suited up as Santa and delivered toys at the American Brain Tumor Association's annual holiday party. More than 20 families from across the greater Chicago metropolitan area had a chance to meet Santa. He also joined other Bears defensive linemen in distributing turkeys to disadvantaged families.

Daniels was involved in the "Wheels for Rocky" fundraising gala at Chicago's ABC7 Studios to help raise money for the purchase of a handicapped-accessible van for Rocky Clark, a former high school football player who was injured while playing football.

He makes numerous school appearances through the Bears School Outreach program benefiting the Chicago Public Schools and was active in planning an "After School at the Movies" party for over 600 disadvantaged children from Cabrini Green, the Robert Taylor Homes, Boys and Girls Clubs, Special Olympics and the Chicago Park District. Daniels spoke to the young people and participated in a question and answer session prior to the children selecting from one of nine movies to view.

In addition, Phillip Daniels participated in a punt, pass & kick competition with children from Big Brothers/Big Sisters as part of the Chicago Bears/United Way Hometown Huddle, a hands-on volunteer program. He was also the host of a bowling party in association with Athletes For Kids, an organization Daniels created to assist underprivileged kids with special services and events. Bears players competed against members of print and television media.

In support of youth football, Phillip served as spokesperson of the Chicago Prep Bowl (high school) championship and annually conducts a football camp in his hometown of Donalsonville, Georgia. He also contributed to his hometown by donating $50,000 to Seminole County High School to build a field house and purchase jerseys for the athletic team.

The prestigious community service award was renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970.

The winner is selected by an elite panel of judges including NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Sports Illustrated writer Peter King, Connie Payton (wife of the late Walter Payton), and former players Frank Gifford, Jack Kemp, John Mackey, and last year's award winner, Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis.

The winner will receive $25,000 to donate to his selected charity. Each finalist will receive a $1,000 contribution towards a charity of his choice.

The 2002 Walter Payton Man of the Year winner will be announced during Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual news conference January 24 prior to Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, California.

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