The San Francisco 49ers will not earn many national honors this season, but they have two players getting a nod for being all around good guys. The 49ers announced on Friday that left tackle Joe Staley is one of eight finalists for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. Additionally, kicker Robbie Gould is the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The Art Rooney award was created in 2014 in honor of the Pittsburgh Steelers founding owner. It is presented annually to an NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition. The voting will take place on the players’ Pro Bowl ballot. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice. The finalists include Staley, Drew Brees, Calais Campbell, Vernon Davis, Antonio Gates, Andrew Luck, Eric Weddle, and Tramon Williams.
The NFL announced the 32 nominees for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award earlier this week. The award recognizes an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field. The award has existed since 1970, but was renamed for Walter Payton in 1999. 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin won the award in 2015. Each nominee receivers $50,000 in their name to expand Character Playbook, and an additional donation of up to $50,000 to their charity of choice. The winner will have $500,000 donated in their name of the 2018 winner. $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook, the NFL and United Way’s digital character education program. An additional donation of $250,000 will be donated to the charity of his choice.
You can participate in voting for the award through the Charity Challenge. It is a social media campaign that has fans vote by using #WPMOYChallenge on Twitter with their favorite nominee’s last name somewhere in the post between Dec. 6 and Jan. 13. The player whose unique hashtag is used the most will receive a $25,000 contribution to their charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Here’s a look at Gould’s bio for the award:
Robbie Gould is a seasoned veteran currently in his 14th season in the NFL, celebrating a career filled with record setting statistics and an unwavering commitment to uplifting the community around him, no matter where his job takes him.
Gould founded his foundation, The Goulden Touch, in 2011. The foundation focuses its giving efforts under four Goulden Rules: Education, Health&Wellness, Medical Research and Social Service. Since founding The Goulden Touch, Gould has taken an active role in bettering every community he touches.
Gould’s foundation opened the Ace Hardware Robbie Gould Patient and Family Library at Lurie Children’s Hospital as part of a commitment of over $2 million. The tree-house themed library serves as a quiet space for all patient families to read books that distract and inspire them during difficult times. As to why this was a meaningful project for him, Gould explained, “I get a chance every now and then to go home and read to my kids. We read a book before we go to bed, just part of our routine. When you’re in a hospital it’s difficult to stay in that routine. So at least there’s some normalcy.” Gould also funded a new library cart to bring books to patients confined to their hospital room. Gould also took part in the Children’s Miracle Network’s Children’s Hospitals Week in Orlando, where he visited with patients and helped the organization fundraise. During his time in Orlando, Gould connected so deeply with one families that he will host them at a game. All season long, Gould helps welcome families experiencing medical crisis through the 49ers WISH program
In his hometown, Gould has contributed over $650,000 to a variety of organizations, purchasing sports equipment for Lock Haven Youth Sports, hosting toy drives, and supporting nonprofits including Salvation Army and equine therapy organization Horses for Hope. To aid in education, he gives annual college scholarships. In 2012, through a two-year “Kicking Hunger” campaign, The Goulden Touch raised funds and over 36,000 meals for their backpack program to support youth with limited or no access to food. 2013 brought one of the Illinois’ deadliest storms in history and Gould immediately went to work hosting fundraisers, rallying his teammates and organizing service days to support the relief efforts for the tornado. Gould personally coordinated buses, solicited donations from grocery stores and gathered volunteers to help those in need. Gould also donated $150,000 to the construction of Goulden Touch Field, in Chicago, which serves over 12,000 children. Gould’s efforts to support those undergoing medical challenges include donating over $100,000 to support the opening of a Ronald McDonald House, volunteering with Super Baskets of Hope, and hosting fun runs to promote families living a healthy lifestyle.
Gould is always the first to greet the young boy or girl during practice, treat them to a kicking lesson, and speaking with their parents. Children’s health is not the only cause Gould is passionate about. Gould’s outreach spans from hunger relief to social justice and domestic violence. Gould was selected as one of five 49ers players to represent his teammates in directing the team’s social justice contributions. Gould has also used his platform to prevent domestic violence and sexual assault among youth by sharing his personal story. In October, he guided his teammates and a group of high school students through a healthy relationships workshop with One Love Foundation.