TAMPA Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker and special teams standout Adam Hayward received the team's Man of the Year award for 2010, making him a nominee for the NFL's prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
The league honor is given annually to the player who displays excellence on the field and off with his volunteer and charity work. It is named for the former Chicago Bears running back, who won the award in 1977.
"It's great to be recognized for the things you do off the field,'' said Hayward, who last week took over as the Bucs' starting strongside linebacker in place of injured Quincy Black.
Hayward has been actively involved in breast cancer fundraising and awareness efforts since losing his mother to the disease in 2004. He was named 2010 Ambassador for the Florida Suncoast Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and served as honorary chairman for the second annual Pink Tie Gala in May, filming a variety of advertisements and public service announcements for Susan G. Komen.
While Hayward has focused his community outreach on breast cancer awareness, he has remained active in other philanthropic efforts, including visiting servicemen and women recovering from injury at Tampa's Veterans Hospital and traveling to Bahrain, the Persian Gulf, Spain and Italy to greet U.S. Naval troops.
"There are so many negative things the players are getting into off the field now that are creating a bad image that it's just an honor to be recognized as one of the positive role models," Hayward said. "Because we are role models - to little kids and even to grown adults. So, just to be out there doing the right thing in the community means you are doing something good and people are paying attention.''