CHARACTER COUNTS

Jonathan Ledbetter named Cardinals’ 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year

Dec 5, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: 4:46 pm

Arizona Cardinals DT Jonathan Ledbetter...

Arizona Cardinals DL Jonathan Ledbetter smiles as he speaks to the media after being named the Arizona Cardinals' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year for 2023. (Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

(Tyler Drake/Arizona Sports)

The Arizona Cardinals named defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter as their 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year on Tuesday.

The award is handed out each year to a player for their community efforts in addition to their play on the field.

As part of the nomination, Ledbetter will receive a donation of up to $55,000 in the charity of his choosing. He’ll also don a special helmet patch for the remainder of the season.

“So many of our players go above and beyond when it comes to contributing to the community and it is challenging to single out just one for this honor. But whether it’s here in Arizona or in his home state of Georgia, Jonathan has consistently demonstrated a commitment to serving others that exemplifies everything that this award stands for,” Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in press release on Tuesday.

“We are enormously proud to have him represent the Cardinals and to present him as our 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.”

Ledbetter joins 31 other nominees who will now vie for the league-wide Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. The 32 players will be recognized for their efforts during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII before the winner is announced during NFL Honors the Thursday before the big game.

The winner will also receive $250,000 for the charity of their choice.

“This award is a testament to the people that came before me, who serve their community through countless hours of work and dedication and sacrifice,” Ledbetter said Tuesday.

“I’m extremely honored and blessed and grateful to be up here and to have been nominated to receive this award. It’s just a testament to God and my faith. Sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy or I’m not supposed to be here, but God continues to show me why he has me here and continues to use me in this platform.”

While Ledbetter continues to make an impact on the field, he’s also making his mark off of it as he focuses on lending a helping hand to the next generation.

Through his foundation, Led A Better Way, which he created in 2019, Ledbetter has hosted youth football camps, holiday gift drives, hospital visits and mental health awareness events in both Arizona and his home state of Georgia.

This past Thanksgiving, Ledbetter helped whip up meals for more than 230 Arizona families alongside Cardinals’ 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year Kelvin Beachum and linebacker Dennis Gardeck.

Ledbetter also donated $20,000 to the Thew Elementary School in Tempe in October before speaking on the importance of education and even helping out with a science project.

What’s next for Jonathan Ledbetter?

Among his biggest goals is consistency when it comes to giving back.

So it should come as no surprise that Ledbetter has even more charitable work lined up this week and beyond.

“We’re doing a huge toy drive, Christmas drive this year for pretty much a Section 8 housing complex in Arizona,” Ledbetter said. “We have so many toys underneath the facility right now — we actually just got a whole shipment of like 2,000 toys. … We got a bunch of guys on the team that are going to come help out.”

That’s not the only thing Ledbetter has lined up in the near future, either.

“We’ve got another event at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital that I’m pretty excited about,” the lineman added. “We’ve got the actors who play the voices in (Spider Man, God of War, Uncharted). They’re all going to come to Phoenix and we’re all going to play video games with the kids there and spend some time.”

2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominees

Arizona Cardinals: Jonathan Ledbetter
Atlanta Falcons: Bradley Pinion
Baltimore Ravens: Roquan Smith
Buffalo Bills: Dion Dawkins
Carolina Panthers: Bradley Bozeman
Chicago Bears: Justin Jones
Cincinnati Bengals: Ted Karras
Cleveland Browns: Anthony Walker Jr.
Dallas Cowboys: DeMarcus Lawrence
Denver Broncos: Garett Bolles
Detroit Lions: Frank Ragnow
Green Bay Packers: De’Vondre Campbell
Houston Texans: Jon Weeks
Indianapolis Colts: Zaire Franklin
Jacksonville Jaguars: Dawuane Smoot
Kansas City Chiefs: Patrick Mahomes II
Las Vegas Raiders: Maxx Crosby
Los Angeles Chargers: Derwin James Jr.
Los Angeles Rams: Cooper Kupp
Miami Dolphins: Alec Ingold
Minnesota Vikings: Harrison Phillips
New England Patriots: Jonathan Jones
New Orleans Saints: Tyrann Mathieu
New York Giants: Saquon Barkley
New York Jets: Solomon Thomas
Philadelphia Eagles: Lane Johnson
Pittsburgh Steelers: Cameron Heyward
San Francisco 49ers: Arik Armstead
Seattle Seahawks: Bobby Wagner
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Antoine Winfield Jr.
Tennessee Titans: Jeffery Simmons
Washington Commanders: Terry McLaurin

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