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Thomas Davis a bright spot for Panthers

In what mostly has been a disappointing season for the Carolina Panthers, there has been one big bright spot.

That’s the story of linebacker Thomas Davis. He’s made a successful return after tearing his ACL for the third time. The story just added another nice layer. The Panthers just announced that Davis has been named their Man of the Year, which makes him one of 32 nominees for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

“Thomas Davis lives his life the way that Walter Payton did -- family and community first. His commitment as a husband and father reflects Walter’s loving spirit,” said Carolina coach Ron Rivera, who was Payton’s teammate with the Chicago Bears. “Thomas’ strength to come back from three knee surgeries is indicative of Payton’s toughness on the football field. I can think of no other Panthers player who is as deserving as Thomas.”

In addition to his on-field contributions, Davis and his wife, Kelly, run the Thomas Davis Defending Dreams Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to providing and promoting programs that enhance the quality of life for more than 2,000 underprivileged children and their families annually. Started in 2007, the foundation distributes more than $50,000 in aid each year.