EAGAN, Minn. – The NFL and Minnesota Vikings announced Tuesday that LB Anthony Barr has been named the team's 2021 nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Considered the league's most prestigious honor, the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Awardpresented by Nationwide recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. Each nominee by the league's 32 nominees was announced today.
"Anthony consistently represents the best of the Minnesota Vikings within the community," said Vikings Owner/President Mark Wilf. "His leadership on the team's social justice committee, his commitment to organizations like the Jeremiah Program and his investment of time and resources through his Raise the Barr Foundation is inspiring. We are proud to recognize his efforts and name Anthony as our 2021 nominee for this impressive honor."
Since entering the league in 2014, Barr immediately made an impact on the field as a team captain and off as a leader in the Minneapolis/St. Paul community. Barr has invested meaningful time and resources through Raise the Barr foundation. Co-founded by Barr and his mother, Lori Barr, in 2016, Raise the Barr is committed to increasing the economic mobility for single-parent students by providing them with the holistic resources they need to complete their education, including tools they need for their children to thrive. Promoting college success among student-parents is crucial to improving racial, ethnic, and gender equity in higher education access.
"To be recognized is an honor and I'm humbled but this isn't why I do what I do," the eighth-year Vikings linebacker said. "Earning the Walter Payton Man of the Year award makes me want to try even harder and make a bigger difference as we know the work is far from over. My mother is proud, and I'm thankful for her, as she is the one that pushed me to be more vocal and present in the community. I'm very thankful to the Minnesota Vikings organization and the Wilf family. The Wilfs are very generous, kind and they have big hearts. I can't imagine playing for an ownership group that is more generous with their time and resources than the ones that we have in Minnesota."
Vikings LB Anthony Barr received a surprise when he walked onto the concourse at TCO Performance Center and saw family members and teammate, Eric Kendricks, as they named him the 2021 Vikings Community Man of the Year.
Raise the Barr created a continuum of programs designed for equitable educational access and economic mobility for two generations at a time. Direct services include emergency grants, college scholarships, mental health support and financial support for single-parent students to gain their degrees in Minnesota and California.
Through his foundation and the Minnesota Vikings, Barr has touched the lives of many through the following community events and initiatives.
Barr recently hosted a holiday party at Jeremiah Program in Minneapolis, an organization that he has been an integral part of carrying out their mission, previously hosting additional holiday parties and helping to commemorate the re-opening of five renovated computer labs with a $50,000 donation from the Vikings and Country Financial. Jeremiah Program disrupts the cycle of poverty for single mothers and their children. The organization empowers low-income single mothers to excel in the workforce and beyond, provides their children with tools to succeed in school, and reduces their family's dependence on public assistance.
As a vital member of the Vikings Social Justice Committee since 2018, Barr has led player-driven efforts to create valuable dialogue and change in the community on issues related to building unity, hope and positive community relationships. Over the previous two seasons, the Wilf family has made a $500,000 commitment to the Social Justice Committee. Those dollars were directed toward scholarships for low-income students, school supplies, legal aid for disadvantaged and underrepresented populations and law enforcement relations.
Following the killing of George Floyd, he sat down with Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to better understand the problems our community is facing and help facilitate change. Barr has spoken to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to discuss how the league and players can work together to achieve social justice and has used his platform to inspire others and help be the change in our community.
The Vikings created the George Floyd Memorial Scholarship with a $125,000 endowment that will generate approximately $5,000 annually to benefit African American graduating seniors in Minneapolis-St. Paul who are pursuing post-secondary education. Barr helped inform Mimi Kol-Balfour, the inaugural recipient of the 2020 scholarship.
Barr has visited All Square on multiple occasions, a local nonprofit social enterprise that invests in the minds and lives of formerly incarcerated individuals. Centered on a craft grilled cheese restaurant, professional development institute, and forthcoming civil rights law firm, All Square's mission is to ensure that those impacted by the criminal justice system have the support and opportunities they deserve to become our country's future leaders, business owners, legal practitioners and entrepreneurs. Barr and the Social Justice Committee recently made a donation of $150,000 to All Square.
View photos of Vikings LB Anthony Barr through the years participating in community events. Barr is the Vikings 2021 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee.
This summer, Barr sat down to discuss assistance opportunities with leaders from Little Earth, the only Urban Native American-preference HUD housing community in the world with over 38 different Tribes represented. Little Earth became a vital resource to the community and neighborhoods throughout Minneapolis after the George Floyd killing, feeding and providing emergency aid to over 1,000 people per day in addition to its own 1,200+ residents.
In partnership with RISE (Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality), the Vikings hosted a series of Critical Conversation sessions with Minnesota High School athletic programs to help address issues of race and injustice. Barr spoke to a group of high school coaches to discuss the significance of having these conversations in a team environment. The program with RISE further formalizes the discussions and provide statewide access for Minnesota athletic programs to engage on these essential issues.
He has spent time with local youth who are housed at the Hennepin County Juvenile Detention Center while offering support, guidance and serving as an inspiration. While in-person visits are on hold, Barr has kept up with these individuals via virtual visits and written letters.
A first-round pick in 2014, Barr has been central to the success of a Vikings defense that, from 2015-19, ranked second in the NFL in points allowed per game (18.8) and yards allowed per game (317.3) and led the league in third-down percentage (33.9 percent allowed). As Mike Zimmer's first draft selection as head coach in 2014 (9th overall), Barr splashed onto the scene in his initial season, leading the team in tackles through the first 12 games of the season before he was shut down due to injury. Barr earned Pro Bowl honors in four consecutive seasons (2015-18) and Second-Team All-Pro in 2015. The former UCLA Bruin became the first Vikings linebacker to be selected to two Pro Bowls in their first three years in the league and the first to earn back-to-back selections since Chad Greenway (2011-12). The San Pedro, California, native is tied for fifth in all-time sacks among Vikings linebackers with 15.5. Barr also ranks fourth in Vikings linebacker history in career tackles for loss with 36. Barr has started all 93 career games he has played and five postseason contests.
As a nominee, Barr will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.
For the fourth year in a row, all 32 team winners will be highlighted as nominees and recognized for their important work during the weekend leading up to Super Bowl LVI. The 2021 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air the Thursday before Super Bowl LVI, on ABC.
All 32 nominees will receive a $40,000 donation in their name to their charity of choice. The winner of the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.
Fans are encouraged to participate in Nationwide's 7th annual Charity Challenge, a social media campaign designed to support and promote team nominees. Fans can vote on Twitter by using #WPMOYChallenge followed by their favorite nominee's last name or Twitter handle. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most between Dec. 7 and Jan. 17 will receive a $25,000 contribution to his charity of choice, while the second and third place finishers will receive $10,000 and $5,000 donations, all courtesy of Nationwide. Hashtag information and official rules can be found at nfl.com/manoftheyear along with more information about the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.