BRANDON, Miss. (WLBT) - Brandon native and New Orleans Saints linebacker Demario Davis is a finalist for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The award is given to one player each year for their work on and off the field. Previous winners include Drew Brees, Larry Fitzgerald and Peyton Manning, among many other Hall of Famers.
Davis is the nominee representing the Saints. He joined the team in 2018 and was named an AP first-team All-Pro in 2019.
“He almost immediately became a leader on our team and one of the most respected players in the locker room,” Saints General Manager Mickey Loomis said of Davis.
Off the field, he founded the Devoted Dreamers Foundation, which partners with schools to give children the tools to be successful spiritually, mentally and physically.
He’s also been a leader for social justice. He visited Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Buffalo, Minneapolis and Los Angeles this summer on a “listening tour” and in June, wrote an op-ed for Newsweek calling for police to be “fully reimagined.”
Davis wears masks and bandanas with Man of God on them. Sales of these benefit the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
“Football is what I do; it’s not who I am,” Davis said. “At the end of the day, I see the problems that are going on in the world just like the next man, and I want to be the one who works to alleviate that burden. And hopefully it inspires someone else to do the same thing.”
He also hosts youth summer camps in Jackson for middle schoolers, and sponsors a 7x7 team in Central Mississippi through the Devoted Dreamers Foundation.
Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by Demario Davis’ name. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 10 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations.