NASHVILLE – Derrick Henry continues to make a name for himself on the football field.
Off the field, the Titans running back continues to build a giant legacy as well.
On Tuesday, Henry was announced as the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award for the second year in a row.
Considered one of the league's most prestigious honors, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.
Each of the league's 32 nominees were announced on Tuesday morning.
"It's an honor for me," Henry said. "This award, what it stands for, the morals and principles that Walter Payton stood for, I think that every athlete should try to strive for them each and every day. He did amazing things on the field, but off the field as well. We can just hope to be the man that he was one day. I'm very glad to represent this organization for the second time. It's an honor to be nominated for this award. Hopefully I can continue to do great things and do the things that this award represents."
All 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVII. The 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVII, on NBC.
All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive up to a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
The award was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton.
"I am proud of the work our players do in the community and appreciate the opportunity to highlight that work," said Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. "Derrick has a passion for making a difference for those who are in need and the young people in our community. His leadership on and off the field is a great example of what it means to be a professional football player."
Once again, Henry had another busy year giving back to the community, in part through the "Two All Foundation" he created, which "levels the playing field for today's youth so their future success is not limited by the circumstances of their upbringing, background, disability or influence." The mission of the foundation is to provide support TWO ALL adolescents in need.
This fall, Two All partnered with Bridgestone to inspire and empower hundreds of middle school girls to become leaders in STEM. Through Henry's initiative, girls from underserved communities will have increased access to STEM education and mentorship through a program designed to spark and maintain their interest from middle school into the workforce. The partnership runs through the season with an end goal of raising $100k for Play Like a Girl.
Also this fall, Henry sought to increase his impact on students returning to school by donating $22,500 to H.O.P.E. and Blessings in a Backpack. His donation to H.O.P.E. helps provide a safe environment that empowers inner city children to step into their greatest potential. His donation to Blessings provides hunger-free weekends for 100 children all school year at Schwab Elementary, where 95% of students qualify for free/reduced lunch.
Additionally, Henry donated tracksuits for players and coaches at his Yulee High, where he starred outside of Jacksonville, totaling $10,000 in financial impact.
Yulee High coach Kyle Dougherty said Henry has also provided t-shirts and shorts to football players at the school. On another occasion, Dougherty said Henry gave part of a Pro Bowl bonus to help supply weights in the school's weight room, and some of that gift also went to recondition helmets. In all, that gift was also around $10,000, Dougherty said.
"I know I appreciate everything (Derrick) has done for our program," said Yulee safety Landon Hale. "We all do. He is constantly in the area, giving back to us. It's inspiring to tell you the truth."
Henry's efforts in 2022 continued to showcase the generosity he's shown in the past.
-In March 2021, Henry made a $10,000 donation from his Two All Foundation to Jeremy Taylor, a Nashville firefighter who lost his family home and all their belongings in a fire. Taylor, a Titans season ticket holder, was surprised at his fire station with a $15,000 donation -- $10,000 from Henry's 'Two All' Foundation, along with a $5,000 contribution from Campbell's Chunky Soup.
The good deed was prompted by Henry, who saw the news story and asked a member of the Titans organization how he could help. Taylor, his wife Lauren and their daughters, ages 13, 12, 11, and 8, lost everything in the fire.
"Losing a home is such a tragic occurrence," Henry said at the time. "Not only did I see the (story), but I saw that he was a Titans fan and also a first responder. Nashville has been through so much as a community – the tornado, the pandemic going on, and then the Christmas bombing. I just wanted to be able to help someone in need and someone who has been helping everyone else throughout this pandemic."
-In July 2021, for the fourth consecutive year, Henry hosted a back-to-school event in his hometown of Yulee, Florida. Through his Two All Foundation, Henry donated school supplies, backpacks, and bicycles to 200 kids.
-In September of 2021, Henry worked with the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee to host a back-to-school event through his Two All Foundation. Through Foundation sponsors and personal donations from Henry, they were able to meet B&GC's goal of providing 5,000 backpacks full of school supplies to children in need, including $50 gift cards to Burlington for 25 children the club identified as the most in-need. Henry also hosted these 25 kids for an in-person, back-to-school shopping day with additional $100 gift cards, reflecting on how he grew up in a boys & girls club and went on to achieve great things. Henry hosted similar events in 2018 and 2019, even one shopping event for Metro Nashville Public School teachers in 2019.
-In September 2021, Henry wanted to foster stronger relationships with Titans fans and, in his words, "be a blessing." He posted a tweet asking Titans fans, artists of any level, to reply with pictures of their creations of him. He selected multiple pieces of art ranging from school-aged children to grown adults and purchased them directly from the fans.
-Also in September 2021, Henry's single-game high school rushing record was broken by Kayleb Wagner, a high school football player from his native Florida. Wagner tallied 535 rushing yards to break Henry's own record of 502. Incredibly, Kayleb was born with amniotic band syndrome and plays without a left hand and part of his forearm. Henry purchased tickets for Wagner and his family to attend the team's Week 5 game in Jacksonville, and he met them on the field before the game to present Wagner with his own game-worn cleats and gloves.
-Henry also donated $20,000 to CORE Response in 2021 to support their relief efforts in Haiti following the devastating earthquake in August.
-In the spring of 2020, Henry learned of the Holland family, who were greatly impacted by the tornadoes in Nashville. The matriarch, Ms. Renita, was working several jobs to support her family, the type of dedication that reminded Henry of his grandmother, the inspiration behind his Foundation. Together with Nike, Derrick paid the family's rent for an entire year, and teamed up with Ashley Furniture, who donated $12,000 to the family to furnish their home. This allowed Ms. Renita to quit one of her three jobs and spend more time with her family. Henry also surprised the family with suite tickets to a game, game-worn and signed cleats, and outfitted the entire family in Nike.
-In August 2020, Henry donated $10,000 to Hurricane Laura relief in Haiti via the Red Cross.
-In November 2020, Henry and Kroger Health announced their partnership to combine education and advocacy in the public health space. As a Kroger Health ambassador, Henry shared his experience getting a flu shot and helped educate Americans about how they can access COVID-19 testing services.
-In December 2020, Henry organized a zoom with 50 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, surprising them with $5,000 in Target gift cards and Nike shoes for the holidays. Henry also donated $100 gift cards to 120 kids from his hometown of Yulee, Florida since COVID-19 prohibited him from hosting his annual holiday hometown event where he and his family pass out toys to 500 kids every year since 2016.
-In December 2019, Henry teamed up with a group known as "Pay Away the Layaway" to pay off more than $10,000 in layaways over Christmas for 20 families in the Nashville area.
-Also in December 2019, Henry learned of a fan battling cancer attending the Titans game in Houston with his daughter. The fan was nearing the end of his fight but said the Titans brought him joy during a dark time. Henry secured a pair of sideline passes for the father and daughter so he could meet them before the game. He then went on to rush for 211 yards, three touchdowns, and secure the NFL's rushing title.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 8th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique mention is used the most between Dec. 6 and Jan. 8 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear.