Sacramento native, 49ers star Arik Armstead named Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Sacramento native and 49ers defensive lineman Arik Armstead is up for the NFL’s most prestigious honor for the fourth consecutive year.

The NFL announced Tuesday Armstead was the 49ers’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The award is given to players who “excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities.”

Armstead, of course, has focused his charitable efforts in his hometown of Sacramento. He started the Armstead Academic Project in 2019 which has generated over $2 million towards Sacramento and Bay Area youth through fundraising and his own donations. Armstead’s priority has been to advance education equity to underserved youth in the Sacramento area, particularly students of color in communities that don’t receive the same resources as others.

“I really take my career as what I do on and off the field. I think they go hand in hand,” said Armstead in a press release. “I want to use my blessing to bless others. I feel like it’s my responsibility. When it’s all said and done, I want to leave this earth a better place than when I was born. I think that’s what we should all strive to do.”

All 32 NFL teams each year nominate a player for the award. Armstead has been San Francisco’s since 2020. The winner of the award will be announced during the NFL Honors award show on Thursday, Feb. 8, three days before Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.

Armstead, who went to Pleasant Grove High School in Elk Grove before playing at Oregon, has hosted football camps, college field trips, health and wellness fairs, and has provided programs and school supplies to children in both the Bay Area and Sacramento. Last year, the Armstead Academic Project announced a $250,000 implementation of the Armstead Academy, which was to broaden after-school and summer programs for local students.

Armstead, 30, is third on the 49ers this season with 5.0 sacks behind Nick Bosa (8.0) and Javone Hargrave (6.0). San Francisco’s defense is ranked fifth in yardage and third in scoring, while its 36 sacks ranks eighth in the NFL.

Fans can show support for their favorite nominee by voting on X, formerly known as Twitter, by posting #WPMOYChallenge with the name or X handle of their chosen nominee, or by voting directly on the NFL’s website. The nominee with the most votes/hashtag mentions will win a $35,000 donation from Nationwide Insurance to the charity of their choice. The runner-up and third-place recipients receive $10,000 and $5,000, respectively.

Past winners of the Walter Payton Man of the Year

Dak Prescott, 2022

Andrew Whitworth, 2021

Russell Wilson, 2020

Calais Campbell, 2019

Chris Long, 2018

J.J. Watt, 2017

Larry Fitzgerald & Eli Manning, 2016

Anquan Boldin, 2015

Thomas Davis, 2014

Charles Tillman, 2013