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Ted Karras Bengals' nominee for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award 

The Cincinnati Bengals announced center Ted Karras as its nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide. 

The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide is the league’s most prestigious honor and acknowledges NFL players who excel on the field and demonstrate a passion for creating a lasting positive impact beyond the game in their communities. The announcement was made during ESPN’s ManningCast coverage of the Bengals’ Week 13 game at Jacksonville.

In November of 2022, Karras began selling his fan-favorite Cincy Hat, a customized hat featuring Bengals-themed colors and claw marks. In one year since TheCincyHat.com launched, the project has generated more than $800,000 in sales, with all proceeds of over $325,000 going directly to Village of Merici. Based in Karras’ hometown of Indianapolis, Village of Merici is a non-profit living community and service provider for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Karras has been closely involved with the organization as a donor, fundraiser and event host since he entered the NFL in 2016.

“I’m truly honored,” said Karras. “I’m so grateful to be a part of Village of Merici and grateful to everyone in the Cincinnati community. I can’t believe how this project turned into something like this. What a very humbling experience.”

Karras personally matched $100,000 in donations and hat orders to get The Cincy Hat initiative started. Through online sales and three community events hosted by Karras, over 22,000 hats have been sold to date, with new designs introduced as well as T-shirts, polos, visors and onesies. Karras then matched an additional $120,000 in donations and orders during Giving Tuesday 2023.

Among Karras’ goals is for the revenue generated from the hats to help Village of Merici serve more adults with developmental disabilities through direct services and independent housing opportunities. In the past 12 months, Village of Merici has expanded the number of adults it supports by 60 percent.

“The financial support The Cincy Hat project has provided Village of Merici is incredible,” said Colleen Renie, Village of Merici Executive Director. “This project has become 10 times larger than any other fundraiser we have throughout the year. It’s given us the ability to think bigger and reach more adults in need. We have a large waitlist of adults in need of services, and we’ve been able to hire more coaches and serve more people with this new income stream.”

As a nominee, Karras will wear a Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season in recognition of his accomplishments on and off the field.

All 32 nominees will be recognized for their achievements during the week leading up to Super Bowl LVIII. The 2023 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year winner will be announced during NFL Honors, a primetime awards special to air nationally on CBS on Thursday, Feb. 8.

Each nominee will receive up to a $55,000 donation, and the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award winner will receive a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice. All donations are made possible by the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

This year, fans are once again encouraged to participate in Nationwide's annual Charity Challenge, a social media and online contest that allows fans to show support for their favorite Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year nominee. Fans can vote on X (formerly Twitter) by posting #WPMOYChallenge along with the name/X handle of their chosen nominee or by voting directly on NFL.com/ManOfTheYear. The nominee who receives the most collective hashtag mentions and votes will win an additional $35,000 donation from Nationwide to the charity of their choice, with the runner-up receiving $10,000 and the third-place winner receiving $5,000. Charity Challenge voting takes place from Dec. 5-Jan. 8.

For more information on the nominees and the award, please visit NFL.com/ManOfTheYear.

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