In his seven seasons with the Dallas Cowboys, quarterback Dak Prescott has collected accolades amid the spotlight while becoming the face of America's Team.
On center stage Thursday night, Prescott was recognized with the NFL's highest acclaim.
Prescott was named the 2022 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year at the annual NFL Honors from Symphony Hall in Phoenix, just days ahead of the Arizona Super Bowl.
"Thank you to the NFL, to Commissioner [Roger] Goodell, to Nationwide for recognizing the impact that we as NFL players can have off the field," Prescott said. "To the Payton family, I have such appreciation for Walter, for your beautiful family that continues the legacy through your charitable work.
"That's something I've always said, that I hope that when I finish this game, they can say he was a helluva player, but he was a much better person."
Prescott, a two-time Pro Bowler and former Associated Press NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, is the fourth Cowboys player to receive the Walter Payton award, following Hall of Fame quarterbacks Roger Staubach (1978) and Troy Aikman (1997), and former teammate Jason Witten (2012).
"As a Dallas Cowboy, I am honored to join the prior recipients of this award, such a prestigious award, which is Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman and Jason Witten," Prescott said. "These are men who I look up and have learned so much from. Being recognized, I will never take for granted and it's something that I'll take pride in forever."
Traditionally the final award of the evening, the Walter Payton Man of the Year acknowledges the NFL's best for their exceptional community endeavors off the field, as well as their distinction between the lines.
Among the 29-year-old Prescott's charitable ventures is the creation of his Faith Fight Finish (FFF) Foundation, which focuses on colon cancer research, mental health and suicide prevention, bridging a gap between law enforcement and its communities, and assisting those faced with life-challenging adversity.
Prescott lost his mother, Peggy, to colon cancer in 2013. He made certain to thank and honor her on Thursday night.
"I want to acknowledge the person who's had the biggest influence on my life: my mother, Peggy," he said. "My mother was and still is my moral compass. And through my own charitable contributions, I seek to share her strength and courage with the world. It was one of a kind."
In addition to establishing his FFF Foundation, Prescott donated $1 million to improve police training and address systemic racism following the killing of George Floyd in 2020. During the spring of 2022, Prescott succeeded Staubach and joined Aikman as the co-chair of the Children's Cancer Fund Gala, which annually serves as a fundraiser for research and pediatric cancer in North Texas and throughout the country. Furthermore, Prescott partnered with fellow 2022 WPMOTY nominee Solomon Thomas of the New York Jets' The Defensive Line to provide suicide prevention training for teachers.
Prescott's long been recognized for his openness in speaking on mental health and his overall charitable efforts. This was his second year as the Cowboys' man of the year nominee and his third overall.
Now retired Los Angeles Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth was last year's winner.
Upon receiving the Walter Payton Man of the Year, Prescott is also bestowed a $250,000 donation for the charity of his choice.
Each of the NFL's nominees for Walter Payton Man of the Year are given a $40,000 donation in their name toward a charity of their choosing.
The NFL Man of the Year harkens back to the 1970 season, when the first-year award was presented to future Hall of Famer and Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas. It was later renamed in 1999 after the late, great Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton.
Nearly 45 years after Staubach became the first member of America's Team to win the league's most prestigious honor, Prescott concluded Thursday evening as the league's man of the year.
"I'm grateful every day for the opportunity to continue to chase the legacy of Walter Payton and the former Man of the Year winners," Prescott said. "I draw so much inspiration from each of you, who represent the immense potential that we have as NFL players to make an impact on the community and the world. Our work will never be done, and it will not be easy. But through adversity we find our strength, and I know we will carry on our worthy pursuits not being discouraged by how far we have to go, but rather emboldened by the hope that we can leave this world a better place than we found it.
"So honored to receive this award. Thank you all and God bless -- love you, mama."