NASHVILLE, TN, Nov 17, 2008 – The Tennessee Titans announced today that linebacker David Thornton has been named the 2008 Titans Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winner.
Veteran linebacker David Thornton is the 2008 Tennessee Titans Walter Payton Man of the Year.
Thornton has been a Man of the Year nominee six during his career and this is Thornton's second year to garner the award as he was named the Indianapolis Colts 2003 Man of the Year. Thornton was selected by a majority vote from his teammates, Titans staff, members of the news media and local non-profit and community executives for his dedicated community service.
Thornton is now a finalist for the league-wide 2008 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award that will be awarded during Super Bowl week in Tampa. 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 the new 2008 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 one of the closest votes ever, Thornton was selected from a group of eligible finalists that included Rob Bironas, Keith Bulluck, Albert Haynesworth, Chris Hope, Jevon Kearse, Kevin Mawae and Kyle Vanden Bosch. These finalists were named "Titans 2008 Community All-Stars," among other players, for their significant community service contributions.
Titans Senior EVP Steve Underwood presents Thornton the team's Walter Payton Community Man of the Year award during Monday's press conference.
Thornton is an integral member of one of the NFL's stingiest and most respected defenses. He is part of a defensive unit that has allowed an NFL-low 13.1 points per game in 2008, while helping the Titans register a 10-0 record. The seventh-year pro has started all ten games at outside linebacker for the Titans this season and has notched 59 tackles and a forced fumble. He also ranks second on the team with five tackles for losses, while recording two passes defensed. In 2007, Thornton led the Titans with a team-high 140 tackles and a career-high two interceptions, while helping his team reach the playoffs for a fifth time in his career. Thornton is a remarkably durable player, having missed only one contest in his career and none since his rookie campaign.
For his sportsmanship and courage while persevering through a difficult shoulder injury, Thornton was named the 2007 Titans Ed Block Courage Award recipient by his teammates. In addition, Thornton has been nominated for the NFL Players Association's highest honor, the Byron "Whizzer" White Award for his service to his team, community and country, three times during his career – once with the Colts (2005) and twice with the Titans (2006, 2007).
While always consistent on the field, Thornton is equally as dependable off the field with his community outreach activities. For the past three summers, he has hosted the David Thornton Football Camp in his hometown of Goldsboro, North Carolina. The free football camp provides youth ages 8-18 with fundamental football instruction and life skills messages based on the camp's theme, "Building CHAMPions" (Character Humility Attitude Motivation Perseverance). In addition, he has participated in other fitness-related activities helping to promote the NFL's What Moves U/Play 60 initiative at local schools. In November, Thornton will be the guest speaker at the Tennessee Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance Convention to share with area instructors the value they bring in their role to the overall health and wellness of youth.
From L to R: Jeff Fisher, LB David Thornton and Senior EVP Steve Underwood at Baptist Sports Park.
Thornton took the lead during the Titans annual Hometown Huddle event where Titans players and staff spent the afternoon visiting with local youth at the Martha O'Bryan Center that provides academic services to youth in the second-grade through high school as well as a safe place for them to study and congregate.
During the holiday season Thornton provides nearly 300 families in Nashville, Tennessee and Goldsboro, North Carolina with a Thanksgiving meal annually. For a fourth year, Thornton joins Genesco, Inc. for Cold Feet, Warm Shoes, a program that provides new shoes, socks, winter hats and shirts to more than 300 underprivileged youth in Nashville and Indianapolis. In addition, he will provide gifts for families in need in Goldsboro for a second consecutive Christmas.
Thornton quietly donates tens of thousands of dollars annually to youth programs and faith-based organizations in Indiana, North Carolina and Tennessee and provides countless pieces of autographed memorabilia to help raise funds for worthwhile charities.
The respect, admiration and appreciation of Thornton's community service is evident as Thornton has been a designated NFL Players Association representative since 2004 and serves on the NFL Player Advisory Council, a group selected to communicate issues that affect players to Commissioner Goodell.
"I would like to congratulate all of the nominees this year and thank them for countless hours that they devote to the Mid-South," said Coach Jeff Fisher. "I am pleased that David is being recognized for more than he does on the field. He is a terrific player and is committed to making our community a better place."
In addition to Thornton, the Titans will recognize a variety of players as Community All-Stars that have played an integral role in giving back to the community. Mr. and Mrs. 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. While the award recognizes only one player, the Titans organization is honored to have so many players deserving of this recognition.