Just days after announcing his return to the NFL for his 14th season, Arizona Cardinals' wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald received another honor that highlights the depth and breadth of his professional success.
On Saturday, Fitzgerald was named the co-winner of the 2016 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, the only award that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well on his on-the-field success. Fitzgerald was named a co-winner of the award with New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, and the pair received the award ahead of the league's other finalist, Carolina Panthers' tight end Greg Olsen.
Fitzgerald became the second player in Cardinals' history to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, joining quarterback Kurt Warner who received the honor in 2008 and was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Fitzgerald works closely with two foundations, the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund, and has provided funds for activities for children across the country. Fitzgerald has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to middle schoolers in Minneapolis, his hometown, and Phoenix to help disadvantaged youth in both areas.
Fitzgerald has also served the global community through the Starkey Hearing Foundation which fits hearing aids for those in need in Africa and has traveled to Ethiopia on behalf of Oxfam America to help work on irrigation systems in local communities.
Fitzgerald has a long history of supporting the United States Military, and recently raised money for the Semper Fi Fund.
"Our communities are better because of what Larry Fitzgerald, Eli Manning and Greg Olsen and the thousands of other NFL players bring to them," Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said. "They are truly worthy of our recognition and appreciation. But at the Cardinals, we all know how special Larry is and why he is particularly deserving of this prestigious honor. What he has accomplished in his 13 years as a receiver in the NFL will be nearly impossible to match."
On the field, Fitzgerald finished the 2016 season tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 107 and posted his second consecutive 1,000-yard receiving season. Fitzgerald was named to his 10th NFL Pro Bowl this year, becoming the second wide receiver (Jerry Rice) in NFL history to be named to at least 10 Pro Bowls.