The Atlanta Falcons named kicker Matt Bryant the team’s nominee for the 2013 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award at the annual Community Honors Dinner at Ray’s on the River. Bryant, a 12-year veteran with the Atlanta Falcons, is a 1998 graduate of Baylor University with a degree in Education. “It’s an honor,” Bryant said. “You try to do your best on the field with your job, but you also try to recognize the fact that there are a lot of people out there who may not be as fortunate as you are. To be able to give back, go out into the community and put a smile on people’s faces who maybe going through hard times, you just try and fulfill those obligations.”
During the offseason, Bryant attended the ground breaking ceremony for Corporal Todd Love’s smart home dedication in Douglasville, GA. A smart home is a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer. Corporal Love lost both his legs in Afghanistan and Bryant was in attendance to offer some motivational words to the group. Bryant served as a presenter at the annual Atlanta Sports Awards at the Fox Theatre in downtown Atlanta, GA and presented an award to a distinguished athlete from the metro Atlanta region. In March, he spoke to students at a school-wide assembly at Lanier High School in Sugar Hill, GA about the importance of eating the right foods and exercising daily. He participated in the 19th annual Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Golf Classic at Cherokee Golf & Country Club in Cherokee, GA. Bryant was a celebrity golfer in the 2nd annual Matt Ryan Celebrity Golf Tournament at Sugarloaf Golf & Country Club in Duluth, GA benefitting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He also served as the Grand Marshall for the March for Babies event in downtown Atlanta. In this role, Bryant announced the top fundraising families and helped with the countdown for the walk. He participated as a celebrity waiter for the Falcons’ 4th annual Huddle Up for Miracles hosted by Head Coach Mike Smith at 103 West in Atlanta to benefit Children’s Miracle Network. He attended the Atlanta Falcons/Verizon Wireless Golf Tournament at the River Club in Suwanee, GA. Bryant was a celebrity fisherman in the club’s 6th annual Fishing with the Falcons. The players went fishing out on Lake Lanier with soldiers who had been recently injured in the Middle East.
During the season, Bryant purchased 20 season tickets and t-shirts through the Atlanta Falcons Rise Up & Share ticket program for various charitable organizations in metro Atlanta. He spent an afternoon fishing on Lake Lanier with several Falcons sponsors. He surprised two deserving families with new bedroom furniture in Decatur, GA as part of the Rooms to Go partnership. Each child received Falcons merchandise and autographed memorabilia when they were greeted by Bryant as well. In addition, he attended the 5th annual Atlanta Falcons Dazzle & Dine at Ray’s on the River in Atlanta with several of his teammates to honor five breast cancer survivors. The survivors were treated to a special day at Van Michael Salon in Atlanta prior to dinner. He also visited with students at Duncan Creek Elementary in Dacula, GA. He read children’s books to the students, talked about the importance of education and answered questions. He competed in teammate Harry Douglas’ 5th annual Bowling for Babies event to benefit the March of Dimes – Georgia Chapter at Dave & Buster’s in Lawrenceville, GA. He participated in the team’s Hometown Huddle event and was part of the group that visited a McDonald’s in Atlanta. Bryant spoke to NFL Fuel Up to Play 60 teachers at a conference in Marietta, GA and signed autographs and took pictures with fans at a Publix in Hoschton, GA. Bryant, along with teammates Sean Weatherspoon and Thomas DeCoud, surprised the children and staff at the Gwinnett Children’s Shelter with new bedroom furniture in Buford, GA as part of a Rooms to Go partnership. He served as a spokesman and taped PSA’s for several local non-profits including the Arby’s Foundation, March of Dimes – Georgia Chapter and the Atlanta Toys for Tots program. Bryant was the 2007 Man of the Year for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since 1970, the NFL has awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award to recognize a player’s off-the-field community service as well as his playing excellence. Each club is responsible for selecting their own nominee while the 2013 national Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be selected by a blue ribbon panel and recognized on field before kickoff of the Super Bowl.