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Saquon Barkley nominated for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year


Saquon Barkley is not a one-dimensional football player, nor is he when it comes to his charitable efforts.

That makes him special on both fronts and why he is the New York Giants nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award is the league's most prestigious honor and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities.

All 32 club nominees will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season. The winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special, on Thursday, February 8. Barkley, who was also the Giants' nominee last year, will look to join Eli Manning (2016) as the only Giants players to win the award.

Each of this year's nominees will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice.

"I understand that God has blessed me with an unbelievable talent along with an unbelievable opportunity to play in the National Football League and to be a person that a lot of kids look up to," Barkley said. "I want to make sure that with the time I have playing in the NFL and on this earth, I try to make a change, try to make an impact on someone's life and fulfill my purpose."

is the New York Giants nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

As a child, Barkley was always able to rely on the support of his parents, even when his family didn't have a place to call home. For this reason, he has dedicated his time and platform to two local charities that support young people who cannot do the same.

Barkley adopted Covenant House New Jersey, which assists young people (ages 18-21) who are facing homelessness and human trafficking by offering immediate shelter and longer-term services to help them transition to independence.

Barkley has helped raise $7 million in critical funds for Covenant House in the last five years. He is the celebrity chairman of Covenant House New Jersey's "Sleep Out: Executive Edition" overnight fundraiser. Prior to his involvement, the annual event raised $750,000 but now raises $1.6 million. This year's Sleep Out is being held on Thursday, December 7 at MetLife Stadium.

"Covenant House New Jersey, I can definitely relate to with homelessness," Barkley said. "I wasn't homeless for a long time, but there was a time in my life that we were homeless. I know how much it meant to have family members, to have friends that were able to help and look out and help us get back on our feet. When I think back on that time in my life, my parents did such a really good job that, as a child, you really didn't realize it, to be completely honest. My parents (Alibay Barkley and Tonya Johnson) worked really hard and tried their best, and that's why I'm so thankful to be able to have both parents in my life and have an unbelievable family. Knowing now, I can understand how someone who cares about you and someone who wants to help and someone who wants to make change, I know how much that impacted my life … I want to do the same for others."

The second overall selection in the 2018 NFL Draft, Barkley has climbed the franchise record books to top five in rushing yards and seventh in yards from scrimmage. He owns the distinction as the first player in Giants history to rush for at least 1,000 yards in each of his first two seasons and holds the single-game record in yards from scrimmage.

Barkley admitted experiencing homelessness drove him as a budding superstar and continues to drive him as a player and parent.

"I wouldn't be who I am without that. I wouldn't be the person I am without my family, without my siblings, without my family members. I would say that definitely does drive me, but I learned a lot of lessons, a lot of valuable lessons from that. I would say it drives me more in how I raise my kids and how I am able to sit there and have conversations with these kids that come in and give them the best advice I can."

Barkley's work has inspired many people to get involved, including Giants President and CEO John Mara, who recently joined the Board of Covenant House Action and Research Tank (CHART), which will research and track youth homelessness and human trafficking data to identify potential innovative solutions and strategies.

Additionally, this year's Giants Significant Others group, hosted their own "Sleep Out" fundraiser at MetLife Stadium in the Spring, raising another $500,000.

Barkley also partners with Children of Promise NYC, a non-profit that supports kids who have been impacted by the incarceration of a parent or sibling by providing after-school programming and summer camps, counseling, therapy, mentoring and family support. This year, he sponsored a summer trip to an amusement park and personally surprised the kids in the Bronx with new winter coats. He will also host a December holiday party for the kids in Brooklyn.

To further nurture personal relationships, Barkley brings three kids and one staff member from both Covenant House New Jersey and Children of Promise NYC to every Giants home game, purchasing their tickets, greeting them on the sidelines pregame, and then bringing them down to the Giants locker room to spend meaningful time with them postgame – win or lose. Since 2018, Barkley has hosted kids at 31 home games in addition to inviting 50 people to training camp this past summer.

"I know a lot of people whose [parents] have been in jail," said Barkley. "I wanted to find a way where I could make an impact on them. They've been amazing. They're fun. It's truly an honor every single time they come to the games on Sunday ... just to be able to see all those smiles on those kids' faces, they bring so much joy in my life from just being able to sit down and talk to those kids. I'm just happy that I'm able [to do] something so small as bring them to a football game on Sunday and it can go a long way."

In conjunction with his Michael Ann & Saquon Barkley Hope Foundation, Barkley also hosted a free football camp for kids in Jersey City, N.J. this summer. The Penn State legend then helped coach the St. Luke's Youth Football Camp in Whitehall, Pa. Barkley named the foundation in honor of his paternal grandmother, who passed away before he was born.

"I feel like a lot of times you get foundations, and they have one goal, one purpose," Barkley said. "For Michael Ann & Saquon Barkley Hope Foundation, what we stand for, our hope is any way we can make a change. There's not just one primary thing we're focused on. The goal is just to bring hope to these kids, to these people that we work with, to these communities that we work with. Wherever you are right now in your life, it may not seem like you are where you want to be, but through hard work, through dedication, through putting yourself around the right people, through having help and having people who actually care, we can help catapult them."

This year, fans are once again encouraged to participate in the annual Charity Challenge, a social media and online contest that allows fans to show support for their favorite Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Fans can vote on X (formerly Twitter) by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with Barkley or @saquon, or by voting directly at

The nominee who receives the most collective hashtag mentions and votes will win an additional $35,000 donation to the charity of their choice, with the runner-up receiving $10,000 and the third-place winner receiving $5,000. Charity Challenge voting takes place from Dec. 5 to Jan. 8.

View photos of Giants running back Saquon Barkley's time with the New York Giants.