Seattle Sounders co-owner Russell Wilson received a prestigious honor Saturday night, when the Seahawks quarterback was named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.
Established in 1970 and renamed for the Hall of Fame running back in 1999, the award recognizes excellence on and off the field. Wilson receives a $250,000 donation to Russell and wife Ciara's Why Not You Foundation. Founded in 2014, the nonprofit is dedicated to fighting poverty through education, empowering youth to lead with a why not you attitude.
"The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, to me, represents excellence, not just on the field, but more importantly off the field," Wilson said in a statement. "In life, we're granted the opportunity to have an impact, no matter what sphere of influence we're around. Walter Payton was one of the greatest examples of what he was able to do not just on the field, but more important off the field to give back and to serve and to love and to care. For me, to be able to be even mentioned with a name like Walter Payton is one of the greatest blessings I could ever have and one of the greatest honors you could ever have.”
Wilson has given back to the Seattle community since his rookie season, with annual visits to Seattle Children's hospital and the foundation of the Why Not You Foundation, which, in partnership with Safeway and Albertsons, has donated more than $9 million to Strong Against Cancer, money that funds life-saving immunotherapy treatment. Wilson and Ciara have also helped raise more than $1 million for Friends of the Children, a nationwide organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of generational poverty, donated one million meals to Feeding America and Food Lifeline, then partnered with the aviation company Wheels Up to launch the Meals Up campaign, which raised the equivalent of more than 50 million meals.
Wilson and Ciara were among 11 families to join the Sounders ownership group in August 2019.