Lorenzo Alexander just pulled off a three-peat.
Named the Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee for the third consecutive time, Alexander joins Ruben Brown as only the second Bills player since 1999, when the national award was renamed, to manage the feat. When you examine what the veteran linebacker has accomplished in his time with the Bills and throughout his tenure in the NFL, it's not hard to see why. Touching lives everywhere he goes, Alexander has proven time and again that his heart is as big as his love for the game. Here's a look at what makes Alexander so special both on and off the field.
1. When beloved Bills superfan Ezra "Pancho Billa" Castro lost his courageous battle with cancer last May, fans around the world rallied to honor his selfless wish to provide students with backpacks filled with school supplies. Moved by Castro's story and his connection to the community, Alexander jumped at the opportunity to support the cause by donating to The Teacher's Desk of Buffalo. Joining forces with fans throughout the area, Alexander took things a step further when he, along with teammates, staff and volunteers from the organization came together to fill 5,000 "Pancho's Packs" that were distributed to children in Castro's home state and locally.
2. For Alexander, the months leading up to the season provide him with precious time that he can use to give back to those around him. Whether it's through his ACES Foundation or a Bills outreach event, it's common to see "Zo" out and about lending a helping hand. One example was Alexander's visit to a local school in June. While on the scene, he spoke to boys and girls about the importance of good character. In conjunction with the United Way and NFL's Character Playbook initiative, Alexander was able to share his message and engage the youngsters on topics such as decision-making and relationship building.
3. Through his ACES Foundation, Alexander hosts several outreach initiatives for youth year-round. In August, he teamed up with Turner Construction to put on his second annual Community Wellness & STEM Festival. The free event, which was held at the Belle Center, was open to the public and provided free health screenings and a STEM area for children. Well-received, the program was just one of many ways Alexander is working to achieve his non-profit's mission to "support youth through emphasizing Accountability, taking pride in our Community, striving for Educational excellence while promoting a healthy mind, body and spirit through Sports."
4. While a simple post, this message of thanks from the South Park High School football team has a deeper meaning. For the last three years, Alexander has not only served as a role model on the gridiron, he's mentored student athletes at South Park on how to be upstanding individuals in every aspect of their lives. From attending their practices to treating the youth to unique experiences like a night out at the theater to see "Hamilton," he's fostered a genuine connection with the kids that will last far beyond his time with the Bills.
5. Giving children a chance to see Bills games live at New Era Field is also a priority for Alexander and one he's been able to accomplish through the Bills Player and Coach Community Season Ticket Donation program. His third year participating, Alexander and his foundation donate season tickets to each home game to different groups like seen here. This season, Alexander has given tickets to organizations such as the Belle Center and Erie County.
6. A devoted family man, Alexander often brings his children along with him to community outings. Teaching them the value of helping others, Alexander recently attended the Bills annual Thanksgiving Blitz where he distributed meals to area residents. In this video posted by his mother, it's clear that Alexander's character and commitment to assisting those in need is rubbing off on his kids.
7. Since joining the Bills in 2016, Alexander has established himself as a valuable member of Buffalo's roster. In this time, the difference maker has earned accolades like an All-Pro Second-Team selection for his play in 2016, a bid to the 2017 Pro Bowl, where he was named the defensive MVP, and was voted as a captain by his teammates in 2017, 2018 and 2019. A testament to his game, Alexander – who turned 36 years old in May – has defied the odds.
8. The epitome of a good teammate, Alexander has dedicated himself to mentoring young players, like Tremaine Edmunds, in Buffalo's locker room. Leading by example, the veteran defender was recognized for these attributes earlier this season when he was announced as the Bills 2019 nominee for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship award. A prestigious honor, the nomination is prime example of how Alexander's efforts are making an impact around the league.
9. In addition to serving as a guide for players at the Bills who are just starting out, Alexander has left his mark on many others around the NFL. One of them is former wide receiver Anthony Armstrong, who recently wrote about his connection with the "One Man Gang." Armstrong was very complimentary of Alexander and the time he spent as his teammate in Washington.
"First off, Zo is a GREAT guy," he wrote. "He is someone who you can follow both on and off the field. His Aces Foundation leaves a lasting impact in cities across the United States from his hometown Oakland, CA to bike rides and bowling tournaments in Buffalo, NY and the DMV area. On the field, you get the hardest working guy there is. Zo is a beast."
10. A native of Oakland, California, Alexander always makes sure he remembers his roots when it comes to giving back. Each year, he puts on a free camp for youth in the Bay Area where he hopes to inspire the kids to excel on and off the field.
Renamed in 1999 after Walter Payton, the Walter Payton Man of the Year award honors an NFL player for their excellence both on and off of the field. Scroll through to view photos of the Buffalo Bills nominees since 1999.
As the Bills nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, Alexander will receive $50,000 in his name to the charity of his choice. He will also join the nominees from each of the NFL's other 31 teams at Super Bowl LIV. While in Miami, the group will be recognized in the days leading up to the big game. The winner of the 2019 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will be announced during NFL Honors on Saturday, Feb. 1 on FOX.
Through the Walter Payton Man of the Year Charity Challenge, Bills fans can show their support for by posting on Twitter using #WPMOYChallenge followed by "Alexander" between Dec. 12 and Jan. 12. The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation.