In one breath, coach Bruce Arians compared Patrick Peterson to a young Deion Sanders for his on-field excellence. In the next, he likened Peterson to wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald for his philanthropy.
The star cornerback was shocked when he was named the Cardinals’ 2015 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year, but with that background, there may not have been a more natural choice. Every year, each of the 32 NFL teams honor a player who has dedicated himself to community service while proving his football prowess.
Peterson hosts multiple charity events a year – his annual “Shop with a Jock” event which buys kids gifts for the holidays is Monday – and he’s been adamant on using his platform to improve the lives of less fortunate children. Peterson has especially focused on increasing the literacy rate of young students by creating multiple book-reading initiatives.
“These kids, they are our future,” Peterson said Thursday during his award presentation by Nationwide. “And I want to make sure I’m doing my part at all times to make sure they have the proper tools that they need.”
Three finalists will be chosen among the nominees and the winner will be announced prior to Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco. Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis won it last year, when defensive tackle Calais Campbell was the Cardinals’ nominee. Kicker Jay Feely was a finalist for the award in 2014 and Fitzgerald a finalist in 2013. Quarterback Kurt Warner won it in 2008.
“(Peterson) is among the best of the best,” team president Michael Bidwill said. “I couldn’t be more proud, as he’s exemplifying what an NFL player is all about.”
The Sanders parallel from Arians came because of Peterson’s phenomenal coverage this season. While Peterson admitted he didn’t live up to the billing of a shutdown corner last season, he has been one of the NFL’s best in 2015.
“I knew what held me back last year,” Peterson said. “I was fat. I couldn’t make any plays. I was one or two steps behind of making the play.”
“Everything I’ve been working on this offseason has definitely come all together,” Peterson added.
By Kyle Odegard | azcardinals.com | December 3, 2015