Tight end has used foundation to battle food insecurities in ArizonaDarren Urban
Zach Ertz can't help the Cardinals on the field this season any longer, after suffering a knee injury against the Rams in Week 10.
But his quest to help off the field has not stopped since he played in Philadelphia, and after bringing that mindset to Arizona after his 2021 trade, he has earned the Cardinals' 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Ertz joins honorees from the other 31 NFL teams, and one will be named the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year on Feb. 9 at NFL Honors, prior to the Super Bowl being played at State Farm Stadium at the end of the season.
"As outstanding as he's been on the field throughout his career, Zach's commitment to giving back is even more exceptional and makes him such a fitting selection for this award," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said in a statement. "Whether in Philadelphia or now in Arizona, Zach and Julie Ertz are making a meaningful difference in so many areas.
"We appreciate them and all of our players who go above and beyond to get involved in our communities to make them better."
With the honor, Ertz will receive up to $40,000 to donate to a charity of his choice. The NFL Man of the Year will receive another $250,000 to the charity of his choice.
While Ertz was setting up roots in Philadelphia while playing for the Eagles, he and wife Julie created The Ertz Family Foundation, seeking out a project to lead. They settled on creating the House of Hope, a safe space for neighborhood kids in north Philadelphia where they could be fed after school and have a place to do homework.
"When we got traded out here, we were like, 'We want to make a difference but we don't have ton a time to figure it out,' " Ertz said earlier this season. "That's when we found out about the food insecurities here."
Ertz's foundation, along with The Athletes' Corner, again used the "Score More n' Feed More" initiative, which provided 150,000 meals to food banks across Arizona , and this season Zach and Julie Ertz promised to provided 500,000 meals.
"Man of the Year" honorees wear a helmet decal through the end of the season (which Ertz can't take part in because of his injury.) The three active players who have won NFL Man of the Year -- Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, former Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, and Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson -- wear a jersey patch commemorating their high honor for community service.
Tackle Kelvin Beachum was the Cardinals' 2021 Man of the Year honoree.