Chargers Man of the Year

Marcellus Wiley was named the Chargers' Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2002 and a finalist for the NFL's overall award, the only league honor that recognizes a player's off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence.

Wiley established the Marcellus Wiley Fund at the San Diego Foundation, which adopted three local schools, including Harbor Summit School, Kennedy Elementary School and Vista La Mesa Elementary School upon his arrival in 2001. Over the past two years, Wiley has purchased school supplies, text books and tickets to Chargers home games for all of the schools. Wiley makes frequent visits to schools throughout the county, meeting with the students to share his personal belief in the importance of education.

He also spoke to many service groups and organizations including the Logan Heights Family Health Center's well-respected Spirit of the Barrio Luncheon and the Senior Olympics Annual Awards luncheon. Wiley also participated in the Chargers' annual Back-to-School Shoe Distribution; the second annual Chargers Taste of the NFL benefiting the San Diego Food Bank; NFL 101 for Women; the Charger's 24th Annual Blood Drive, and the Hometown Huddle initiative sponsored by the league as part of the "Community Tuesdays," where players from every NFL team spend their one day off each week during the season donating their time to charities in each team's city.

At Thanksgiving, Wiley helped distribute more than 300 complete Thanksgiving dinners to families. During the Christmas holiday, he played "Santa Wiley," hosting a pizza party for the students at Harbor Summit School. At the party, each child received a sweatshirt and a new pair of shoes, along with gifts for the holidays.

Wiley has also participated in reading programs sponsored by the Governor of California, and he is a board member for the Santa Clarita Valley Youth Project, a youth empowerment service for young people and their families.

Each of the 32 finalists for the 2002 Walter Payton Man of the Year awards will receive a $1,000 contribution to their favorite charity from the NFL. The winner, which will be announced during Commissioner Paul Tagliabue's annual news conference on January 24 prior to Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego, will receive $25,000 for his charity.

It is refreshing to see an award go to those who deserve it for their work in the community. Too often the negative publicity is the first to reach fans ears. Often players are the first to go the extra mile to make someone's day and it is refreshing to see them recognized for their achievements. While Marcellus Wiley is among the finest, upbeat personality in the league, let us not forget the rest of the Chargers players who give their time and work ethic to deserving causes.

The NFL Man of the Year Award has been given out annually since 1970 and was renamed for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back in 1999.

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