TAMPA — Veteran defensive lineman William Gholston, the second-longest-tenured Bucs player on the current roster, is his team’s 2022 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.
Widely deemed the league’s most prestigious honor, the Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for “outstanding community-service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.” Derrick Brooks (2000) is the only Bucs player to win the honor.
“I’m at a loss for words,” Gholston said Wednesday.
Raised in Detroit, Gholston, 31, said he decided to devote much of his life to giving back “when I was a kid, and I didn’t have anything growing up.”
He has donated Thanksgiving food locally for years, distributing 920 meals across the region with Feeding Tampa Bay last month. He also inspired the idea for the D-Line Mobile Food Pantry, which launched in January and provides healthy groceries twice a month for 250 families in east Tampa.
“I said when I get something, I’m going to be able to give, because I know what it’s like not to have,” he said.
Additionally, Gholston, who lost his father and uncle to cancer and watched his mom conquer breast cancer, donated $225,000 to Moffitt Cancer Center’s George Edgecomb Society in 2021 to support research in the diseases (breast, colon, prostate cancers) that disproportionately affect Black men and women.
And his “Gholston Crusaders” community ticket program has provided more than 700 experiences to nonprofit organizations to attend all Bucs home games.
The Man of the Year Award winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a prime-time awards special to air the week of Super Bowl 57. All 32 nominees will receive up to a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of their choice.
“It’s already crazy to be nominated,” Gholston said. “But to be able to win, I feel like that I’ll be able to pave the legacy that I want my kids to remember me by.”
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide’s eighth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees, with winners being announced Jan. 10. Fans can vote for Gholston on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge Gholston or #WPMOYChallenge @WILL_GHOLSTON2 to support the Moffitt Cancer Center’s George Edgecomb Society.
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The player whose unique hashtag 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.
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