Uchenna Nwosu is the Los Angeles Chargers' nominee for the 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Presented by Nationwide, the award recognizes a player's excellence both on and off the field.
"It means a lot to be the nominee this year," Nwosu said. "This award's very prestigious (and) very hard to win. There's only one nominee on every team, and I'm sure a lot of these guys in this locker room do a lot of things in the community. For me to be chosen and recognized, it's an honor."
"We knew we drafted an impact player last year when we selected Uchenna in the second round, but what we couldn't have known then was how quickly he would make an impact off the field," said Chargers president of football operations John Spanos. "It's pretty rare for a second-year player to earn this honor but, then again, that tells you everything you need to know about Chenna. I'm obviously beyond proud to have Chenna represent the Los Angeles Chargers organization as our Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, and what's even more exciting is knowing that this is just the beginning for him."
Nwosu earned the team's nomination for his dedication to supporting the Chargers' community efforts as well as philanthropic work he does on his own.
He's participated in team events like Bikes for Kids, the annual food distribution event with Tyson, multiple Play 60 camps and visited high school players at the Chargers' Coach of the Week. With multiple family members impacted by diabetes, Nwosu has honored them by showcasing the Children's Diabetes Foundation on his cleats for two seasons during the league's "My Cause, My Cleats" initiative. He also helped kick off the team's seven-figure support over the next three years to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti's Summer Night Lights program aimed at gang reduction.
A second-round pick of the Bolts in 2018, Nwosu is a native of Carson, Calif; his childhood home neighboring the stadium where he's played his first two professional seasons. An alum of USC and now member of the Chargers, he is dedicated to giving back to the Los Angeles community, the community that helped mold him into who he's become.
"The fact that he was born and raised here, went to college here and now plays professionally here – he has a unique bond with our community, and I think sees a lot of himself in the faces of the children that now look up to him," Spanos reflected.
One example of this is Nwosu coaching a co-ed group of middle schoolers from the Boys & Girls Club of Carson Main Street Clubhouse's NFL Flag football team. He also underwrote the team's registration fees and took them to a championship in spring 2019.
Another example is how this past May, Nwosu donated gaming consoles, televisions and speaker systems to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, where his father, Henry, has worked for 14 years.
"It is an honor and a privilege to carry out Walter Payton's legacy," mentioned Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn. "I appreciate the work that (Nwosu's) doing on our football team and in the community."
"We are so proud of (him)," USC head coach Clay Helton said of Nwosu. "It's such an honor to see (him) grow up into the man he is today. (He's) representing not only his family (and) the University of Southern California, but now, the Chargers in the best of all ways."
As a nominee, Nwosu 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.
As for the award, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LIV. The 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, on Feb. 1, the eve of Super Bowl LIV on FOX.
For being a nominee, the NFL Foundation will be making a $50,000 donation to Nwosu's charity of his choice. He chose to split his donation between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Carson and the Children's Diabetes Foundation.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 5th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallengeNwosu between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12. The player whose hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide.