Detroit Lions honor FB Jason Cabinda as Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Detroit Free Press

Dan Campbell called himself “a (Jason) Cabinda fan” in training camp, and while the Detroit Lions coach was mostly referring to his fullback’s playing style, he could have been talking about Cabinda’s influence off the field.

The Lions named Cabinda their Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee Tuesday.

The prestigious honor is given every year to a player for outstanding community service and excellence on the field.

“Guys like Jason Cabinda can change the world,” Campbell said in a statement released by the team. “He is a man of principle who sets such a positive example for our entire locker room. Since the day I met him, he has embodied what it means to be a leader on and off the field. With our platform in today’s NFL, it is our duty to help lift up the lives of others, and Jason carries this responsibility with dignity and honor.”

Cabinda, who moved full-time to fullback from linebacker last season, coordinated a food drive for the needy after a condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, this spring, and hosted a back-to-school book drive for students in Detroit this summer.

Cabinda gave out school supplies and more than 800 books to students at Detroit’s Davison Elementary in his book drive and has held virtual weekly reading comprehension sessions with students at the school since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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All 32 of the NFL’s Man of the Year nominees receive a donation of up to $40,000 to a charity of their choice. The Walter Payton Man of the Year is honored annually at the Super Bowl and receives a $250,000 charitable donation.

“Walter Payton’s legacy embodies so many things,” Cabinda said in a statement released by the Lions. “He was one of the greatest running backs on the field, and he truly looked out for people that didn’t have a voice and gave them a voice. I think within my character, I hope to embody Walter Payton in the sense of wanting to look out for others and wanting to be somebody who gives back and be somebody who remembers their roots and where they came from.”

Contact Dave Birkett at dbirkett@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.

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