For the second straight year, cornerback Brandon Carr was named the Ravens’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, one of the most prestigious honors a player can receive.
When Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh told his team in December that Carr was the Ravens’ nominee for the award, he detailed what that the requirements are to be one of the 32 nominees leaguewide. Harbaugh explained that a commitment to community service this year and in years past, a lifestyle of giving back and high-end play on the field were necessary to earn a nomination.
“It’s the highest honor of them all,” Carr said on Glenn Clark Radio Dec. 30. “A lot of great men have come before me. I was able to meet a few of them along the way. To not only be able to play football but use this platform on the field to make plays and win Super Bowls, we have an opportunity to influence our communities and impact lives in a much bigger arena than what we’re playing in now. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to play this game. I’ve been blessed with an incredible upbringing and family support system.”
The award was established in 1970 and named after Payton in 1999. The winner of the award, announced Feb. 1, receives a $250,000 donation to the charity of his choice from the NFL Foundation and Nationwide. All nominees receive a $50,000 donation. Carr is also Baltimore’s Ed Block Courage Award winner this year.
Carr, 33, has made an impact off the field through the Carr Cares Foundation. Founded in 2012, the foundation helps students become proficient readers by the third grade. The foundation’s work in this regard is directed toward Carr’s hometown of Flint, Mich., as well as Baltimore and Dallas. (Carr played for the Cowboys from 2012-2016.)
The Ravens recently spotlighted his work at Greenmount Elementary/Middle School.
The Carr Cares Foundation also works to help victims of breast cancer. Carr’s mother, Kathy, died of breast cancer. Carr visited Franklin Square Medical Center in 2018 with care packages and custom-fitted wigs for patients. This year, Carr hosted breast cancer patients at the Under Armour Performance Center for custom wig fittings and donated $12,500 per game to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
“I’ve been blessed just to have a lot of supporters and a lot of people just receiving us with open arms, allowing us to move throughout their schools or their community as free as we’d like,” Carr said. “Baltimore reminds me of my home, just the feel of it all, just the people. It’s a beautiful place with a lot of just blue-collar, hard-working people who have pride for their community and city. They look forward to just the Carr Cares rolling up on them and doing things in the schools, and we look forward to just feeling that energy from the city as well.”
The 6-foot, 210-pound Carr has made his presence felt on the field in Baltimore, too, in large part due to his durability and reliability. He has started all 48 regular-season games since becoming a Raven, part of 192-game start streak dating back to his rookie season for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2008. Carr has played 763 defensive snaps this year (76.4 percent of snaps on that side of the ball).
Since being drafted in the fifth round out of Division II Grand Valley State, Carr has contributed to some solid teams, such as the Cowboys in 2014 and 2016. (Dallas lost in memorable fashion to the Green Bay Packers in the divisional round in both years.) But this Ravens squad, which is 14-2 and hosts the Tennessee Titans in the divisional round Jan. 11, represents Carr’s best chance yet to win a Super Bowl ring.
Not only that, but Carr has a chance to win a ring alongside another Grand Valley State alum: outside linebacker Matthew Judon, whom the Ravens drafted out of the Michigan school in 2016 and is now in line for a big payday in free agency. Carr said he and Judon donated money to the school for its new Jamie Hosford Football Center.
“Just to be able to experience this journey with a guy who went to Grand Valley as well, he understands the support we have behind us and what we’re trying to do moving forward — be legendary within our own circle,” Carr said. “It’s an absolute thrill just to be playing with my teammates, but to have a guy cut from the same cloth, from the same university, we’re representing, it’s awesome right now.”
A social media component is built into the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Vote for Carr by tweeting “#WPMOY Carr” or “#WPMOY @BCarr39.” The player who gets the most votes will receive $25,000 toward his donation; second place, $10,000, and third place, $5,000.
To hear more from Carr, listen to the full interview here:
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox