Tight end Kyle Rudolph has made two Pro Bowls, and now he’s a two-time Vikings’ Man of the Year.
It was announced Thursday that Rudolph is the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, one of the league’s most prestigious honors. Each team nominates one player for the award, which takes into account community service and will be handed out Feb. 2, the night before the Super Bowl in Atlanta.
“It truly is an honor to represent the Vikings as the Walter Payton Man of the Year (nominee),’’ Rudolph said. “There’s so many guys that have represented this organization so well as our past nominees and it truly is my pleasure to carry on as this year’s nominee.’’
Rudolph, in his seventh season, was nominated for the award for the first time last year. He has worked with the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital since joining the Vikings in 2011, and last year established “Kyle Rudolph’s End Zone” with a donation of $250,000. It is a space for patients and their families that includes a basketball hoop, sports simulator, kitchen and lounge.
Jordan’s wife, Jordan, also has been actively involved with the hospital. The Rudolphs host annual holiday-themed parties for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas and make unscheduled visits to check on patients and their families.
“Both Jordan and I are extremely passionate about kids and anything that we can do to help kids be just that,’’ Rudolph said. “They’re not in the circumstances they’re in for a reason. These diseases and cancers that they’re fighting don’t discriminate. … I think the biggest thing that we try to do is provide these kids with an opportunity to be kids.’’
For his nomination, Rudolph will receive a $50,000 check for his charity. He will wear a helmet decal the rest of season identifying him as a nominee for the Walter Payton award.
A number of letters have been gathered from nurses, patients and families regarding the impact Rudolph has had. The Vikings have featured some of those letters in a video entitled “Dear Kyle.’’
“In addition to having a successful career on the field and rewriting franchise records for tight ends, Kyle brightens the lives of others at dark times,’’ said Vikings president Mark Wilf. “It is clear that the gifts of his and Jordan’s time, financial resources and vision come directly from their heard, and we have enjoyed seeing them provide respite for people in need.’’
The Man of the Year Award was first given in 1970, and was renamed after hall of fame running back Walter Payton following his death in 1999. The only Vikings to have won the award were wide receiver Cris Carter in 1999 and safety Madieu Williams in 2010.