Israel Idonije Finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

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Chicago Bears Huddle

Early Sunday afternoon, the NFL named three players as finalists for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

The award recognizes a player's community work, as well as excellence on the playing field.

Perhaps even more simply put, the award highlights a player who's both a great athlete and a great humanitarian.

The three finalists are: Raiders' Nmandi Asomugha, Vikings' Madieu Williams and the Bears' Israel Idonije.

The winner of the award is scheduled to be announced on FOX before Super Bowl XLV.

The last Chicago Bear to be named to the award was defensive tackle Jim Flanigan. Before that was LB Mike Singletary, S Dave Duerson and RB Walter Payton.

Of course prior to 1999, it was simply called the NFL Man of the Year award.

Idonije established the Israel Idonije Foundation to help families in economically challenged communities around the world.

And that's not his only effort. Israel Idonije has been actively involved in Nigerian charitable efforts, as well as his First-Down Attendance Program, geared towards young students.

Those students who have reached their academic and attendance goals within the First-Down program are given the opportunity to experience a Chicago Bears game live at Soldier Field.

Performance-wise, Idonije has had easily his best season with the Bears. He's tied for the team-high in sacks and forced fumbles.

The three finalists were chosen by a blue-ribbon panel among 32 NFL team nominees.

All of the nominees receive a $1,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation to be made in their name.

The final winner of the award will receive the Gladiator statue, and a $20,000 donation to the charity of their choice.

Idonije is now a two-time nominee for the award, and he is truly deserving!

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