LAKE FOREST – Whether it’s a historic season of winning or a frustrating campaign full of losing, one name always manages to shine a positive light on Halas Hall.
That’s Walter Payton, whose toughness and talent remain a model for the franchise some 18 years after his death.
On Thursday, the famous running back’s legacy came up again in Lake Forest, as the Bears made their choice for the nominee for the NFL award named in Payton’s honor.
That’s Sam Acho, the enthusiastic outside linebacker who is one of 32 finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for 2017. It’s the second-consecutive season that Acho has been nominated for the award which rewards a players commitment to community service.
“It means everything to me, especially to win it for the second year-in-a-row,” said Acho of the nomination. “It’s my seventh year in the NFL, and in seven years you go through a lot of ups and downs, wins and losses. I’ve been to the playoffs. I’ve had a lot of good and bad happen.
“But this is definetely a highlight for me.”
The 32 semifinalists will be narrowed down to three in January with the winner being announced at the NFL Award in Minneapolis on February 3rd. If Acho wins, he’d become the sixth in Bears history to win the honor, joining Payton (1977), Dave Duerson (1987), Mike Singletary (1990) and Jim Flanigan (2000).
Along with the various charitable organizations and causes he contributes to in Chicago, he continues to do a lot of work for the Living Hope Christian Ministries founded by his parents Dr. Sonny Acho and Christy Acho. Sam has gone to Nigeria a number of times in support of his parent’s efforts to deliver medical aid to those in the country.