NASHVILLE, Tenn. –The Tennessee Titans announced today that cornerback Cortland Finnegan has been named the 2011 Titans Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner for the second consecutive year. Finnegan was selected by a voting panel that consisted of his teammates, Titans staff, members of the news media and local non-profit and community executives for his dedicated community service.
Finnegan is now a finalist for the league-wide 2011 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award that will be awarded during Super Bowl week in Indianapolis. This prestigious NFL award has been in existence since 1970 and is the only NFL award that honors players who demonstrate outstanding balance in their lives between civic and professional responsibilities. In 1999, the NFL renamed the award after the late Walter Payton as a tribute to his greatness, both on and off the field. Man of the Year candidates were chosen based on guidelines from the NFL that state all candidates should have completed at least 3 seasons in the NFL and be currently playing in at least their fourth season in the league.
In a very close vote, Finnegan was selected from a group of eligible finalists that included Jordan Babineaux, Rob Bironas, Daniel Graham, Chris Hope, Chris Johnson, Michael Roos, Shaun Smith and Nate Washington. These finalists were named "Titans 2011 Community All-Stars"for their community service contributions and each were presented a "Community All Star" game ball earlier today in a team meeting. Mr. Adams and the entire Titans organization are very proud of the terrific community efforts of all players, who continue to make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate in our community.
"I'm proud of Cortland for being a repeat winner and also of the other nominated players who have done such a tremendous job or serving so many in our community," said Titans Owner/President K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. "It is very important to me that everyone in the Titans organization realizes that they have an opportunity at some level to assist those less fortunate and Finnegan's efforts are truly deserving of this honor. He joins an elite group of players from our past to be honored as the Titans Community Man of the Year."
Finnegan becomes the fourth player to win this award in consecutive years since the team moved to Tennessee. Al Del Greco won the award in 1997-98, Kevin Carter was a three-time winner in 2002-03-04 and Keith Bulluck won the award in 2006-07.
Finnegan was drafted by the Titans in 2006 and has emerged as a huge part of their secondary. As of today, he has 14 career interceptions and is known for his speed and feisty attitude. He has 493 career tackles and 6 sacks, and earned All-Pro honors and a trip to the Pro-Bowl in 2008. Finnegan also set a franchise record with a 99-yard interception return for a touchdown against Houston in 2008. During the recent work stoppage, he organized a mini-camp and off-season workouts for the team. His leadership has landed him the defensive captain's role this season.
In 2009 Finnegan launched The ARK 31 Foundation, which stands for Acts of Random Kindness, to benefit children with special needs and disabilities. Two of his favorite causes that the foundation supports are The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and Special Olympics and has raised over $250,000 for several worthy organizations since its inception.
Finnegan makes countless appearances at many charity events throughout the year such as Stars for Second Harvest benefit concert, the Nashville Zoo Trick or Treating with Kids and partnered with City Saver Coupon Book for fundraising campaign for area schools. He has also participated in various team events such as hospital visits, school visits and other player hosted events.
Finnegan was named a Titans Community All-Star in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and was named the 2010 Community Man of the Year for his efforts. Finnegan and the ARK 31 Foundation's philanthropic efforts and signature events include:
• 4th Annual Karaoke For A Cure:** Finnegan's initial signature event where he invites his Titans teammates and local celebrities to participate in a karaoke bid war to benefit his foundation and LLS.
• 3rd Annual Kid's Carnival Day*: *Finnegan invites his teammates and cheerleaders to interact with youth in various activities including games, autographs, inflatables, etc. to promote PLAY 60 and leading a healthy lifestyle. Last year's event raised $17,000 for ARK 31 and Special Olympics.
• 5th Annual Christmas Dinner: Cortland personally hosts an annual holiday dinner for 300 families from Special Olympics and LLS as well as donating Wal-Mart gift cards.
• Christmas Shopping with the Kids:Cortland contributes his time and money to take underprivileged kids shopping for Christmas.
• Sudden Service Convenience Stores Promotion: *For the past two years,Finnegan teamed up with* **Sudden Service and Pepsi to create a fundraising campaign in support of ARK 31 that has raised $111,000 for charity.
• Boulevard Bolt: Finnegan met teen cancer patient Kelsey Towns during a hospital visit while she was receiving treatment for a rare form of cancer called Synovial Sarcoma. Once he learned that she would not be able to run in her annual charity race, Finnegan decided to run the race for her and push Towns in a wheelchair so she did not miss this Thanksgiving Day race! The proceeds from the run benefit several homeless charities in Nashville.
• Nash Bash Rally and Rhinestone:Finnegan and his wife served as honorary chairs for the Rally Foundation's event that helped raise $140,000 for childhood cancer research.
• St. Baldrick's Team Teddy:Finnegan served as an honorary barber to 12-yr-old Rae Tennent as she had her head shaved at the fundraiser to benefit pediatric cancer research while he donated $2,500 to the cause.
Finnegan now joins an elite group of players that have won the award since the team moved to Tennessee in 1997. The team's previous Community Man of the Year winners since 1997 include:
1997 & 1998 - Al Del Greco
1999 - Chris Sanders
2000 - Kenny Holmes
2001 - Jason Fisk
2002, 2003 & 2004 - Kevin Carter
2005 - Steve McNair
2006, 2007 - Keith Bulluck
2008 - David Thornton
2009 - Kyle Vanden Bosch
2010 - Cortland Finnegan
more information about The Cortland Finnegan ARK 31 Foundation, visit www.ARK31.org.