Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson accepted the NFL’s Man of the Year Award during the Super Bowl pregame show Sunday and then pointed the television audience to Scripture, telling them, “Love changes things.”
The Man of the Year award, named after the late Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton, recognizes an NFL play for his excellence both on and off the field, such as in areas of service and philanthropy. Each team nominates one player.
Wilson, a Super Bowl champion and a seven-time selection to the Pro Bowl, was recognized for his service and philanthropy throughout the Seattle community. Shortly after being drafted in 2012, he began regular visits to Seattle Children’s hospital. In 2014 he and his wife, Ciara, founded the Why Not You Foundation, a nonprofit that benefits youth by fighting poverty and promoting education.
During the pandemic in 2020, the Wilsons donated 1 million meals to Feeding America and Food Lifeline. They also partnered with the aviation company Wheels Up to launch a “Meals Up” campaign, raising enough money to fund more than 50 million meals.
Wilson, during a brief speech on the CBS Super Bowl pregame show, thanked the NFL, the Seahawks, his fans and his family. His father, who died in 2010, was a focus of Wilson’s speech.
“Dad, I can remember you telling me in the car one day, ‘Son, love changes things.’ Dad, you were right,” he said. “… Mom, thanks for showing me how to love. Dad, I know you are smiling up there somewhere with Walter. To the Payton family, thank you for carrying on Walter’s legacy,” Wilson said.
Wilson then quoted, in part, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.
“To America, to the world, ‘love is patient, love is kind.’ Love changes things. The great Walter Payton once said, ‘We are stronger together than we are alone.’ Dad, I think Walter was right. To the young boy or girl who has a dream, who wants to make a difference, remember this one thing: ‘Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.’ Love changes things.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Elsa/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.