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J.J. Watt Wins NFL's 2017-18 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistFebruary 4, 2018

American football player J. J. Watt arrives for the 2017 Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year Award Show on December 5, 2017, at Barclays Center in New York City.  / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS        (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
ANGELA WEISS/Getty Images

Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year at the NFL Honors on Saturday in Minneapolis.

The league bestowed Watt with the honor over fellow finalists Greg Olsen of the Carolina Panthers and Benjamin Watson of the Baltimore Ravens.

The NFL's official Twitter account put out the following regarding Watt's win:

NFL @NFL

Congratulations to @JJWatt! The 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, presented by @Nationwide! #WPMOY https://t.co/O9LvPuN2xZ

According to NFL.com, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award "recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field."

It was established as the NFL Man of the Year award in 1970 before being renamed the Walter Payton Man of the Year award in 1999 to honor the 1977 recipient and late Chicago Bears running back.

By virtue of Watt's win, the NFL will donate $250,000 to a charity of his choice, and $250,000 will be donated in his name toward Character Playbook, which is a charity for middle school children created by the NFL and United Way.

The league will also donate $100,000 to separate charities of Olsen's and Watson's choice, and $100,000 each in their names to Character Playbook.

Per NFL.com, Watt went above and beyond to help Houston during a time of crisis in 2017.

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Following Hurricane Harvey, Watt started a fundraising campaign that raised a remarkable $37 million, which was used to help those impacted by the tropical storm.

Watt is also the founder of the Justin J. Watt Foundation, which helps underserved children, and he is a contributor to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

On Saturday, Watt said the following about the importance of charitable endeavors off the field, per Daniel Gotera of KHOU-TV:

Daniel Gotera @DTGoteraKHOU

J.J. Watt on using his NFL platform to give back: "If I'm remembered as a football player, and a good football player...and that's all I'm remembered for, then I did a poor job in my life." #WPMOY https://t.co/152LD61uEa

The 28-year-old Watt missed all but five games in 2017 due to a tibial plateau fracture. He also played in only three contests in 2016 because of back surgery.

Prior to that, Watt was named a Pro Bowler and First Team All-Pro in four consecutive seasons. That included Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2012, 2014 and 2015.

During his seven-year NFL career, Watt has registered 76.0 sacks, 15 forced fumbles and 13 fumble recoveries.

He is the first Texans player to be named Walter Payton Man of the Year, and the first player from a Houston-based franchise to win the award since Houston Oilers quarterback Warren Moon in 1989.

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