Throughout the last 15 years, two Arizona Cardinals players held the distinction of being named the Walter Payton Man of the Year. In 2008, Kurt Warner won the award in what was a huge season for the Redbirds, as the former undrafted free agent led the Cardinals to their first and only Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
Eight seasons later, Larry Fitzgerald, one of the best receivers to ever play the game and arguably the best to play in the 21st century was named a co-winner of the award along with Eli Manning of the New York Giants.
Ironically enough, a former Cardinal named Anquan Boldin won the award in 2015, and another notable name to snag it was Calais Campbell in 2019 when he was a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars. JJ Watt, who played his final two seasons in Glendale, won the award as a member of the Houston Texans in 2017.
Arizona Cardinals defensive end Jonathan Ledbetter contending for WPMOY Award
This season, Jonathan Ledbetter can add his name to the list of former Cardinals players if he hears his name called at the NFL Honors presentation in February 2024. A formerly undrafted free agent, Ledbetter has worn a Cardinals uniform since 2021, and he may have found himself a long-term home in Glendale thanks to his production this season that includes 41 total tackles, four quarterback hits, 1.5 sacks, and a tackle for loss.
With the nomination in hand, it’s also clear Ledbetter is making an even greater impact in Glendale while off the field. For context, if you’re not sure what the award symbolizes, perhaps words from commissioner Roger Goodell can provide some insights:
""These 32 outstanding men are making a valuable difference in their communities every day and we are proud to celebrate their special gifts and humanitarianism.”"- Roger Goodell
Source: NFL releases Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominees by Field Level Media, ESPN
Other nominees with ties to the Arizona Cardinals include De’Vondre Campbell, who played in the desert for one season in 2020, and Tyrann Mathieu, a fan favorite whom former general manager Steve Keim drafted in 2013. Mathieu played for the Redbirds until 2017 before he spent time with the Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, and currently, the New Orleans Saints.
We at Raising Zona congratulate Jonathan Ledbetter and all 32 nominees for the 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
(Statistics and further information provided by Pro-Football-Reference)