BEREA--Gary Barnidge has been named the Browns 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year. Renamed in 1999 after legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Walter Payton, the accolade is presented to one member of each of the 32 teams, highlighting players’ community service and playing excellence.
“We are proud to present Gary this award for his exceptional contributions on and off the field,” Mike Pettine said in a release.“While Gary is statistically having one of his most productive seasons, it is the result of the unwavering work ethic and team-first mentality that he has carried throughout his NFL career, which has significantly impacted the Browns, as well as Cleveland and communities across the world.”
Ray Farmer also added:
“Gary is extremely deserving of this honor for his consistent dedication to his teammates and the community,” Farmer said. “He is always eager to do anything possible that benefits the people around him, which is evident by his professionalism and his efforts to improve other people’s lives.”
Barnidge said he enjoys working in the community and helping others in need.
“It’s an amazing feeling to be able to help others,” Barnidge said. “We as NFL players have the ability to reach so many kids by just saying, ‘Hey,’ or spending time with them, and that’s a huge aspect of being an NFL player. No matter what you do, you never know what that person is going through, and just a little gesture can change their day or their whole outlook on life. Through AFWB (American Football Without Barriers), we are also trying to help build the sport from the ground level up, not just by watching but by helping kids play and enjoy the sport that we enjoy playing so much.”
Barnidge, a seventh-year player who joined the Browns as an unrestricted free agent in 2013, has already set career highs in all receiving categories this season, including a team-best 55 receptions and seven touchdowns. Among NFL tight ends, he ranks tied for third in receptions (55), third in receiving yards (758), third in TDs (seven), third in receiving average (13.8), third in 25-yard receptions (eight) and tied for first in third-down receptions (19).
With three 100-yard games this year, Barnidge became only the fourth Browns tight end all-time to eclipse the century mark three times in one season and is one of only two NFL tight ends who have accomplished the feat three times in 2015. His seven touchdown catches are also tied for the second most ever by a Browns tight end in one year.
Barnidge will be presented the award on Sunday by Browns owner Jimmy Haslam prior to the game.