The Bengals are out of the running for a third Byron “Whizzer” White Award, but there's no shame in taking a backseat to the five finalists for this year's annual honor, the highest the National Football League Players Association can give. Former Bengals who have won the esteemed humanitarian service award are linebacker Reggie Williams in 1985 and place-kicker Doug Pelfrey in 2000.
In three consecutive years, Williams was the Whizzer White winner, the 1986 Walter Payton Man of the Year and 1987 Sports Illustrated Co-Sportsman of the Year. The 1976 NFL All-Rookie pick was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007. Williams played on both Bengals Super Bowl teams in the 1980s and recovered a team-record 23 fumbles in 14 seasons. His 62.5 sacks is second all-time in Cincinnati history. Williams in his final two seasons with the Bengals was appointed to an open seat on the Cincinnati City Council. He began serving in 1988 and was elected for a second term in 1989.
Pelfrey, who grew up across the Ohio River in Northern Kentucky, was inducted into the Kentucky Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2005. He starred at the University of Kentucky. He's known for his charitable work, including founding the Kicks for Kids Foundation that helps Tri-State children in need pursue their dreams. Pelfrey played seven NFL seasons, all with the Bengals. He holds the team record for most consecutive extra points converted with 101. He made 203 of 207 XPs in his career, a 98-percent rate, and 77.2 percent of his field-goal attempts. Pelfrey's 660 points ranks third all-time in Bengals history, 34 points ahead of Mike Nugent.
From the NFLPA:
WASHINGTON – The NFL Players Association annually recognizes players who go above and beyond to perform community service in their team cities and hometowns.
The Byron “Whizzer” White Award is the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player, and this year’s finalists are: Thomas Davis (Carolina Panthers), Rashad Jennings (New York Giants), Stephen Tulloch (Detroit Lions), Delanie Walker (Tennessee Titans) and Benjamin Watson (New Orleans Saints)
The winner, who will receive $100,000 for his foundation or a charity of his choice, will be announced on February 4, 3:30 p.m. PST, at the NFLPA’s annual Super Bowl press conference.
The finalists’ applications will be reviewed and voted on by a panel of judges across labor, media, sport, service and charity: Cornelius Bennett (former NFL player, NFLPA Executive Committee); Alex Marvez (Senior NFL Writer / Host, FOX Sports / SiriusXM NFL); Marc Pollick (President and Founder, The Giving Back Fund); Tim Waters (National Political Director, United Steelworkers); and the Delta Private Jets, Inc. Committee.
The award was established by the professional football players of America to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to one of their own, Supreme Court Justice Byron Raymond “Whizzer” White—scholar, athlete, patriot, humanitarian and public servant. The NFLPA presents this prestigious annual award to the player that is just as dedicated off the field as he is on it.
Each team’s locker room was given the opportunity to nominate players during the regular season, and each submission was given up to $5,000 for the player’s foundation or charity of his choice. The judges, Charlie Batch, Domonique Foxworth and Kevin Mawae, narrowed the pool of applicants down to five finalists.
Davis, the 2014 Walter Payton Man of the Year, established the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation in 2008. The organization hosts a youth leadership academy, free youth football camp, as well as back-to-school and holiday giveaways. The linebacker’s foundation focuses on benefiting underprivileged youth in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Jennings seeks to help youth overcome educational and health challenges that impacted him as a child. The Rashad Jennings Foundation’s mission is to make school fun by providing tools and mentorship for individual success while promoting health and fitness. The running back hosts annual football camps, family festivals reading challenges, holiday drives and after-school character development programs.
Tulloch is focused on improving education in Detroit, and the Stephen Tulloch Foundation is making a positive impact on students across the region. The organization has adopted 55 area schools, supplying them with computer labs and other necessary supplies, with Tulloch making a personal appearance at each. The linebacker also hosts events for cancer survivors and provides free dental work for teens.
Walker launched his non-profit to provide inner-city and low-income children with educational opportunities and resources. The Delanie Walker Gives Back Foundation hosts back-to-school and college prep initiatives as well as football camps and giveaways. The tight end’s organization also installs reading rooms and “imagination stations” in Nashville area schools.
Watson, a member of the NFLPA Executive Committee, is a finalist for the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. His Watson One More Foundation hosts events for families in need, including holiday gift giveaways, tailgate-themed parties for local homeless individuals and a youth football camp. The tight end also supports of a variety of faith-based transitional and enrichment programs.
For more information on the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, visit NFLPA.com and follow #NFLPAWhizzerAward and the NFLPA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Previous Byron R. “Whizzer” White Award Winners:
2015 Chad Greenway, Minnesota Vikings
2014 Anquan Boldin, San Francisco 49ers
2013 Charlie Batch, Pittsburgh Steelers
2012 Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2011 Tony Richardson, New York Jets
2010 Nnamdi Asomugha, Oakland Raiders
2009 Brian Dawkins, Philadelphia Eagles
2008 Warrick Dunn, Tampa Bay Buccaneers/Atlanta Falcons
2007 John Lynch, Denver Broncos
2006 Steve McNair, Tennessee Titans
2005 Peyton Manning, Indianapolis Colts
2004 Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2003 Troy Vincent, Philadelphia Eagles
2002 Mark Brunell, Jacksonville Jaguars
2001 Michael McCrary, Baltimore Ravens
2000 Doug Pelfrey, Cincinnati Bengals
1999 Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings
1998 Hardy Nickerson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1997 Chris Zorich, Chicago Bears
1996 Bill Brooks, Buffalo Bills
1995 Derrick Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
1994 Mark Kelso, Buffalo Bills
1993 Nick Lowery, Kansas City Chiefs
1992 Reggie White, Green Bay Packers
1991 Mike Kenn, Atlanta Falcons
1990 Ozzie Newsome, Cleveland Browns
1989 Mike Singletary, Chicago Bears
1988 Deron Cherry, Kansas City Chiefs
1987 George Martin, New York Giants
1986 Nat Moore, Miami Dolphins
1985 Reggie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
1984 Rolf Benirschke, San Diego Chargers
1983 Doug Dieken, Cleveland Browns
1982 Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
1981 Ken Houston, Washington Redskins
1980 Gene Upshaw, Los Angeles Raiders
1979 Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
1978 Archie Manning, New Orleans Saints
1977 Lyle Alzado, Denver Broncos
1976 Jim Hart, St. Louis Cardinals
1975 Rocky Bleier, Pittsburgh Steelers
1974 Floyd Little, Denver Broncos
1973 Andy Russell, Pittsburgh Steelers
1972 Ray May, Baltimore Colts
1971 Kermit Alexander, Los Angeles Rams
1970 Gale Sayers, Chicago Bears
1969 Ed Meador, Los Angeles Rams
1968 Willie Davis, Green Bay Packers
1967 Bart Starr, Green Bay Packers
*teams listed throughout indicate team which nominated the player.