On Saturday evening, Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph will be up against nominees from the other 31 NFL teams to win the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
The winner will be announced at NFL Honors on the eve of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.
In lead-up to the big moment, ESPN’s Courtney Cronin chronicled the Rudolph family’s commitment to the Twin Cities community. She delved into “Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone,” a play space at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and highlighted his relationship with the hospital, its patients and their families. She wrote:
Rudolph’s long-standing ties to the children’s hospital have made him a staple in the Twin Cities. Since he was drafted in the second round in 2011, he has made regular visits with his teammates and family and organized annual "Holiday Huddle" parties to provide patients and their families with a brief respite from life inside the hospital.
At an early age, Rudolph was exposed to a similar reality when his brother, Casey, was diagnosed and survived a form of pediatric cancer. Rudolph's own experiences allow him to develop close bonds with families that are going through the same thing his family once did.
Cronin quoted Rudolph, who said the following:
“It’s why we do what we do,” Rudolph said. “We just want to impact these people’s lives, whether it’s the patients, the families, anyone in the Twin Cities, to be quite honest. This is home for us, and we just want to do what we can to help others, no matter what they’re struggling with.”
Rudolph’s nomination comes with a $50,000 donation from the NFL to Masonic Children’s Hospital. The hospital will receive another $25,000 after Rudolph won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Challenge where he and the hashtag #WPMOY were mentioned more than any other player on social media between Dec. 6 and Jan. 13.
View the 30 best images of the Vikings mascot Viktor during the 2018 season at U.S. Bank Stadium.
NFL.com’s Harrison makes HOF predictions
Also during the NFL Honors broadcast Saturday night, the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2019 will be announced.
Last year, Vikings Legend Randy Moss was enshrined into the Hall. Will 2019 add another Vikings name?
NFL.com’s Elliott Harrison opined that former Vikings guard Steve Hutchinson, who is among the modern-era candidates, will miss the cut this year despite his incredible level of production. Harrison wrote:
Hutchinson played at an All-Pro level every year in the NFC. Remember when Shaun Alexander was scoring 140 touchdowns every year in Seattle? Who do you think he was running behind? Alas, Hutch must wait, for now.
So then, who did Harrison predict will make up the Class of 2019?
He led his list with former tight end Tony Gonzalez, who is the all-time leader in catches (1,325) and receiving yards (15,127) among tight ends and “most league observers consider him the top player ever at his position.”
The other two offensive players on Harrison’s list were former running back Edgerrin James, whom he called “the top running back not in the Hall of Fame,” and former tackle Tony Boselli.
Defensively, Harrison predicted former cornerback Champ Bailey and former safety Ed Reed to make it in.