For his success on the field and exceptional work and leadership in the Western New York community off of it, linebacker Arthur Moats has been named the 2013 Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year.
"It's a huge honor and it comes with a lot of responsibility as well," said Moats. "I'm humbled by it. I feel like I'm in a position where I can influence people and touch a lot of lives. My family and I understand the spot we're in and want to help people out and let everyone know that we're in Buffalo to be a part of the community."
Moats spent his first few seasons in the league floating through defensive positions, but in his fourth year in the NFL and first under a new defensive scheme, he's eclipsed his career-high tackle count with 48 on the season so far including a career-best eight in the 24-23 victory over Carolina in week two. Contributing on both defense and special teams and as a mentor for his teammates, his leadership role provides intangible support on the field and in the locker room.
"He's very motivational," said linebacker Manny Lawson. "He's a young guy, but a lot of guys look up to him."
Moats has established himself as a mainstay on the field as well as in the philanthropic circles of the Buffalo community. Since entering the league, he's maintained a strong relationship with the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, and this past offseason was named the Bills United Way Worldwide spokesman. Through this role, he's participated in numerous programs that encourage donations, whether through money or time, to the local community.
During the holiday season for the past two years, Moats has hosted students from the Closing the Gap/Say Yes to Education schools for a holiday shopping spree, providing each student with a $300 gift card to spend on holiday gifts for themselves and their families.
Helping children lead healthy, happy and productive lifestyles is one the central motives behind many of Moats' charitable efforts. In one of his numerous school visits, he spent time in the offseason at Buffalo's Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts where he urged students to pursue their artistic passions. He continues to energize children through the NFL's Play 60 initiative both in his spare time and through team-facilitated community events.
In his hometown of Portsmouth, Virginia, Arthur made a $5,000 contribution to his high school's football program through the NFL Foundation's Matching Grant, as well as an additional $2,500 to the school's art program, blending together two of his greatest passions.
Through these efforts and many more both on and off the football field, Moats continues to share his time, talent and treasure to better the lives of those around him, earning him the 2013 Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Each year, a league-wide Man of the Year winner is selected from 32 nominees from each NFL team. A panel of judges including NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Connie Payton (widow of Walter Payton), the previous year's winner (Dallas Cowboys TE Jason Witten) and a number of former players selects the winner of the award. The Man of the Year winner receives a $25,000 donation to the charity of his choice, and each of the other 31 finalists receives a $1,000 donation.
Below is a list of past Buffalo Bills Walter Payton Man of the Year Award winners:
1999 Ruben Brown
2000 Marcellus Wiley
2001 Reuben Brown
2002 Reuben Brown
2003 Brian Moorman
2004 Drew Bledsoe
2005 London Fletcher
2006 London Fletcher
2007 Lee Evans
2008 Brian Moorman
2009 George Wilson
2010 Fred Jackson
2011 George Wilson
2012 Bryan Scott
2013 Arthur Moats