Eric Wood Nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

Jan 29, 2016; Kahuku, HI, USA; Team Rice center Eric Wood of the Buffalo Bills (70) during 2016 Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 29, 2016; Kahuku, HI, USA; Team Rice center Eric Wood of the Buffalo Bills (70) during 2016 Pro Bowl practice at Turtle Bay Resort. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /
eric wood
Dec 27, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills center Eric Wood (70) against the Dallas Cowboys at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beats Dallas 16 to 6. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports /

Eric Wood has done everything a team could expect from a first-round draft pick, both on and off the field.

There’s nothing bad you can say about Buffalo Bills‘ center Eric Wood. He’s not only a great leader on the field, but does endless charity work and volunteering around his community. I wouldn’t want anyone else leading this offensive line.

That’s why the Buffalo Bills‘ players and coaches nominated Wood for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award — not that other people didn’t deserve it, but he just deserved it more.

Eric Wood sent out a thank-you tweet:

The Walter Payton Man of the Year award — presented by Nationwide — recognizes “one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community,” according to the official website. It is Eric Wood‘s second consecutive year as the Buffalo Bills’ nominee for this award.

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In Wood’s playing career, he has been as reliable as they come. Up until his injury this season vs. the Seattle Seahawks, Wood had started in all 104 games that he was featured in. Ever since the Bills drafted him in the first round of the 2009 draft, he has been the starter for this team and we have never looked back.

As a center, Eric Wood is responsible for leading his offensive line every week and making sure both the running backs and quarterback are well protected throughout the game. In 2015, Wood did a solid job of that as he helped pave the way for an impressive rushing season for Buffalo — which included leading the league in total rushing yards and yards per carry, as well as having three different players rush for over 500 yards each.

To add to that success, he helped the Bills do the same thing this season — before suffering a broken leg in Week 9. Although his season is over, Bills’ fans can’t wait to have him back next season. He was easily the biggest blow this team had this season and we’ve had a lot of them.

When Eric Wood isn’t in uniform, he’s giving back to his community. One thing that defines a true member of the Buffalo Bills is someone who is close to their community. I mean, look at Jim Kelly — perfection. Eric Wood has that same mentality.

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In the past few years, Wood has helped grow his own foundation — the Eric Wood Foundation — into a very respected name. Since it was created, they have raised over $400,000 to help “seriously ill, special needs, and physically challenged children throughout the Greater Buffalo region with daily encouragement and life-changing experiences.” The inspiration for the foundation came from the death of Eric Wood‘s brother, Evan, who died at 11 years old from severe cerebral palsy.

The Buffalo Bills added on their website:

"Eric has been a key to the success of the Bills Play 60 program, Billieve/A Crucial Catch outreach, Salute to Service initiatives, and more. Aside from these larger scale campaigns, Eric is an ambassador for the Teammates for Kids Foundation, assisted in several Bills Make-A-Wish visits, makes impromptu stops at local hospitals and schools, and regularly participates in Bills Community initiatives including visiting the Community Hospitality Tent at Training Camp, providing Thanksgiving Meals for families at the Food Bank of Western New York and handing out gifts at the Bills holiday party for children."

And that’s just the stuff that is documented.

Point is, Eric Wood is the man in Buffalo and I know every Bills’ fan is glad no other team gets to call him theirs.

As described by the NFL website, winners will receive:

"…. a total of $1 million donated in his name, with $500,000 going to a charity of his choice and $500,000 supporting the expansion of Character Playbook across all NFL markets. The two finalists will each receive a $125,000 donation to the charity of their choice and a $125,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook and the additional 29 team winners will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their name to implement Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, presenting sponsor Nationwide, and United Way Worldwide."

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In addition, Nationwide is upping the ante:

"To further celebrate and encourage fan support of the 32 team Man of the Year nominees, Nationwide, the presenting sponsor of the award, is executing the second Walter Payton Man of the Year Charity Challenge. Fans are encouraged to post on social media using their favorite nominee’s unique challenge hashtag between December 12 and January 8. The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice from Nationwide."

Eric Wood is on your side, so vote for him! His hashtag is: #WoodWPMOYChallenge. 

Congratulations, Eric Wood. 110% deserving of the award and I hope you earn some extra donations for the charity of your choice.

The winner will be announced the night before the Super Bowl — February 4th — during the NFL Honors Show. Richie Incognito will also be up for an award, the USAA Salute to Service Award.

Do you remember any of the past Buffalo Bills‘ nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award? I’ll start with 2014: Fred Jackson