Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is a three-time Pro Bowler … and now a two-time NFL Man of the Year finalist.
Olsen, Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt and Baltimore Ravens tight end Benjamin Watson on Sunday were announced as the finalists for the award named after NFL great Walter Payton that recognizes community service.
The winner will be announced Feb. 3 at the NFL Honors program in Minneapolis.
Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, recovering from a broken foot, meets and signs autographs for faithful fans for a September appearance at a Family Dollar in University City. Some of the fans explained that his work off the field is one reason they admire him.
Olsen was up for the award last year when Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Giants quarterback Eli Manning shared the honor.
Veteran linebacker Thomas Davis became the Panthers’ first Man of the Year winner after the 2014 season.
Olsen played in only seven games this season after breaking his foot in a Week 2 win against Buffalo. He is the first tight end in NFL history to post three consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons.
Olsen started Receptions for Research through his foundation in 2009 after his mother battled and survived breast cancer. The program has distributed more than $3.5 million since its inception.
Olsen and his wife, Kara, established the HEARTest Yard Fund in 2013 after tests revealed their unborn son, T.J., had a rare congenital heart condition called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome.
The program provides families of babies with congenital heart disease with assistance for in-home and private nursing care, as well as physical and speech therapy.
The Olsens announced in November the expansion of the HEARTest Yard with a new cardiac neurodevelopmental program – the first and most comprehensive such program in the Southeast.
After learning he was a finalist Sunday, Olsen announced on Twitter he was launching a Man of the Year match. Olsen said he and his wife will match the first $100,000 through Feb. 4 to support families at Levine Children’s Hospital.
Watt was named one of Sports Illustrated’s Sportspersons of the Year after raising more than $37 million in three weeks for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts in Houston.
Watson, who went to high school in Rock Hill, has led efforts to combat human trafficking and violence against the poor.