Veteran cornerback Shawn Springs has been an outstanding player for the Redskins in his two seasons in Washington, D.C. Now Springs has been lauded for his leadership in terms of giving back to the community.
Springs has been named the Redskins' nominee for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The award is given annually to the NFL player who makes significant impacts in NFL competition and in community service.
Since coming over from the Seattle Seahawks in 2004, Springs, the nine-year NFL veteran, has been involved in many events for the Washington Redskins Charitable Foundation.
Last October, for instance, Springs was a keynote speaker at the Redskins Charitable Foundations's "Fourth & Life Forum" at FedExField. He addressed more than 500 freshmen student-athletes from local high schools, encouraging them to take their academic work seriously.
Said Springs: "When I was young, I had no idea I would become a pro football player. I knew I had to do well in school because if I didn't I would be limiting myself. I wouldn't be giving myself the opportunity to be successful."
Later in the 2005 season, Springs also was involved in the "Skins' Santa Shoppe" event on Dec. 13 as the locker rooms at FedExField were transformed into Santa's workshop. Springs and other Redskins distributed gifts to needy children.
Quite naturally, the greater Washington, D.C., community is of utmost importance to Springs. He grew up in Silver Spring, Md., and was an all-state performer at Springbrook High.
In the past year, Springs moved his foundation, "Springs for Life," from Seattle to the Washington, D.C., area. He continues to be involved in public service TV announcements (with local TV personality Leon Harris) and donates funds to needy inner city youth based on his interceptions and those of his Redskins teammates.
In addition, Springs is involved in the fight against diabetes, an illness from which his father, former Dallas Cowboys running back Ron Springs, has suffered.
The Man of the Year Award is the only NFL award that recognizes player off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence. One player from each of the league's 32 teams are nominated.
Last year's winner, Atlanta's Warrick Dunn, received $25,000 to donate to his selected charity. All other nominees received $1,000 to be donated to their charities. The 2004 nominee for the Redskins was rookie H-Back Chris Cooley.
The 2005 winner will be announced during a press conference on Super Bowl weekend.
As a Redskin in 2004, Springs led the team with six sacks and five interceptions. Only three players in NFL history have been the sacks and interceptions leader for their team. Springs joined linebackers Junior Seau of San Diego and Joey Porter of Pittsburgh.
In 2005, Springs played at a high level each week, starting 15 games and finishing with 51 tackles in the regular season. His key play came in the Week 12 game versus San Diego. He intercepted Drew Brees late in the fourth quarter of a game the Chargers won 23-17 in overtime.
Among Redskins, Darrell Green (1996) and Joe Theismann (1982) are past winners of the NFL's Man of the Year Award, re-named in 1999 to honor Payton, the former Chicago Bears great.
Past Winners, NFL Man of the Year Award
2004: Warrick Dunn, Atlanta Falcons
2003: Will Shields, Kansas City Chiefs
2002: Troy Vincent, Philadelphia Eagles
2001: Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers
2000: Derrick Brooks, Tampa Bay, and Jim Flanigan, Chicago
1999: Cris Carter, Minnesota Vikings
1998: Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
1997: Troy Aikman, Dallas Cowboys
1996: Darrell Green, Washington Redskins
1995: Boomer Esiason, New York Jets
1994: Junior Seau, San Diego Chargers
1993: Derrick Thomas, Kansas City Chiefs
1992: John Elway, Denver Broncos
1991: Anthony Munoz, Cincinnati Bengals
1990: Mike Singletary, Chicago Bears
1989: Warren Moon, Houston Oilers
1988: Steve Largent, Seattle Seahawks
1987: Dave Duerson, Chicago Bears
1986: Reggie Williams, Cincinnati Bengals
1985: Dwight Stephenson, Miami Dolphins
1984: Marty Lyons, New York Jets
1983: Rolf Benirschke, San Diego Chargers
1982: Joe Theismann, Washington Redskins
1981: Lynn Swann, Pittsburgh Steelers
1980: Harold Carmichael, Philadelphia Eagles
1979: Joe Greene, Pittsburgh Steelers
1978: Roger Staubach, Dallas Cowboys
1977: Walter Payton, Chicago Bears
1976: Franco Harris, Pittsburgh Steelers
1975: Ken Anderson, Cincinnati Bengals
1974: George Blanda, Oakland Raiders
1973: Len Dawson, Kansas City Chiefs
1972: Willie Lanier, Kansas City Chiefs
1971: John Hadl, San Diego Chargers
1970: Johnny Unitas, Baltimore Colts