FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Chris Lindstrom has been named the Atlanta Falcons Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, the team announced on Tuesday. As the Falcons winner, Lindstrom will be the club's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. Considered one of the 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.
Since being selected by the Falcons in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Lindstrom has been influential both on and off the field in the City of Atlanta. Over the past four years, he has been instrumental in launching a Georgia chapter of Best Buddies International, a nonprofit organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development and inclusive living for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Lindstrom, who has a buddy of his own, has been heavily involved with Best Buddies prior to entering the NFL.
In addition to his work with Best Buddies, this year Lindstrom surprised local teachers with a shopping spree for their classrooms at the beginning of the school year, served meals to families in need at the Atlanta Ronald McDonald House and brought a food truck to Flowery Branch High School to visit with and feed the football team leading up to their homecoming game. The fourth-year offensive lineman also cooked dinner for a breast cancer fighter and her family at the Atlanta Falcons Dazzle & Dine event, provided Thanksgiving meals to those in need on Atlanta's Westside during Falcons Feast, took part in the organization's visit to Joint Base Lewis-McCord in Washington, spent time with hospital staff at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta for their season kickoff party and cleaned Anderson Park on Atlanta's Westside during the Falcons Hometown Huddle event.
On the field, Lindstrom has started all 13 games at right guard, anchoring an offensive line that has blocked for the second-best rushing attack in the NFL, averaging 158.9 yards on the ground per game.
Pro Football Focus has given Lindstrom an overall grade of 93.8 this season, tied with San Francisco's Trent Williams for the highest grade among all offensive players in the NFL regardless of position. He has also been PFF's top-rated offensive lineman in each of the past three weeks (Weeks 11-13).
"It's an incredible honor," Lindstrom said. "I'm so thankful to be in an organization like the Falcons with an owner like Mr. Blank that provides such a great platform to give back to the community, and I look forward to continuing to do that."
"Things I value are commitment, loyalty and perseverance. When I think of those three words, I think of Chris Lindstrom," Founder, Chairman & CEO of Best Buddies International Anthony Kennedy Shriver said. "I'm super proud that he's gotten matched up with one of our participants with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He's been at this for four years, communicating, engaging and relentlessly paying attention to somebody who is really one of the most vulnerable people in our community. If it wasn't for Chris Lindstrom, we wouldn't have Best Buddies Georgia. We launched Best Buddies Georgia under his leadership and dedication."
As a nominee for the league award, Lindstrom will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
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.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's eighth annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote for Lindstrom on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by Lindstrom or @C_Lindstrom63. 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.