LAKE FOREST – Named after the best player in the history of the franchise, one honor presented by the National Football League means a little more around Halas Hall.

The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, named after the late Bears’ Hall of Fame running back and one-time league rushing king, honors a player for their contributions to their community off the field.

All 32 teams picked their nominee for the 2022 award on Tuesday, including the Bears.

Cornerback Jaylon Johnson was selected by the Bears to be up for the award in his third year in the NFL.

He found out about his nomination on Monday at Halas Hall, with Connie Payton and WGN Sports anchor Jarrett Payton giving him the news.

Along with solidifying himself as the team’s No. 1 cornerback in that time since being drafted by the Bears in 2020, Johnson has spent a lot of the last year starting “The Kevvy’s Vision Project.” He created it in memory of his friend Kev’Vion Schrubb, who was shot and killed in Fresno in 2021, as a way to continue the work that he did in the community.

Schrubb would often give merchandise through his brand to the homeless in the Fresno area, so Johnson started the vision project as a way to improve opportunities for overlooked communities in that area.

“I started the foundation with the intention of keeping my friend Kev’Vion’s legacy going Before the foundation, it was Kev’Vion who would do such important things to help our community,” said Johnson in a statement released by the Bears after the announcement that he was a nominee for the Payton Award. “Being in the NFL, I recognize my great fortune to be in the position to do the very things he did every day when he was here with us.

“With my career in the NFL, my goal is to improve both as a player and as a member of my community. I intend on doing this through Kevvy’s Vision Project.”

The winner of the 2022 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award will be announced at the NFL Honors on Thursday, February 9th ahead of Super Bowl LVII.

Previous Bears’ winners of the NFL Man of the Year Award, which was named after Payton shortly after his death in 1999, include:

  • Charles Tillman – 2013
  • Jim Flanigan – 2000
  • Mike Singletary – 1990
  • Dave Duerson – 1987
  • Walter Payton – 1997

The winner of the Payton Award will receive up to $250,000 to give to a charity of their choice while the nominees will receive $40,000 to donate.