MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – The Miami Dolphins today announced linebacker Jerome Baker as its nominee for the WALTER PAYTON NFL MAN OF THE YEAR AWARD PRESENTED BY NATIONWIDE. Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced today.
Baker is a regular presence in the South Florida community, utilizing his platform as a Miami Dolphins player to make Miami and the surrounding area a better place. One of the first recurring events he established after he was drafted by the Dolphins in 2018 was a Christmas event for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Miami-Dade. Born on Christmas Day himself, he hosts the event for children as a birthday gift and even made sure the event could be held virtually in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Baker also steps in during times of need. When a residential building collapsed in the nearby town of Surfside in June 2021, he partnered with a minority-owned small business food truck to provide meals to first responders aiding in the recovery efforts. After an earthquake hit Haiti in August 2021, Baker partnered with Miami Dolphins Football UNITES community partner City of North Miami to transport donation items to Haiti and supported a call for action for the public to deliver goods needed by the country.
His efforts aren't limited to just South Florida either. When he was drafted in 2018, Baker established the Expand the Land Foundation to inspire youth and provide mentorship and programming in his hometown of Cleveland.
Since then, he's hosted multiple events to benefit students in both the Cleveland and Miami communities. Baker has partnered with Miami Dolphins Football UNITES community partners, working with organizations like Feeding South Florida to assist with meal packing, 5000 Role Models youth mentorship programming and police ride-alongs. In 2020, Baker wanted to find a way to give back to the Cleveland community, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic hit home. He hosted a socially-distanced backpack giveaway at his high school alma mater, Benedictine, for kids in grades 2-8 to motivate kids in school.
As a nominee, Baker will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the fourth year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVI. The 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI, on ABC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 7th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 7 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.