Man of Year: Fitz would join Largent, Warner

Perhaps you've heard: The San Francisco 49ers are heading to the Super Bowl for a sixth time in franchise history.

A few other NFC West items have slipped through around here amid all the red and gold confetti. I'm going to touch on a few of them, beginning with Larry Fitzgerald's status as one of three finalists for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

Fitzgerald seems like such a worthy candidate for the causes he champions, the professionalism he consistently demonstrates and, of course, for his sustained excellence on the field. Cleveland's Joe Thomas and Dallas' Jason Witten are the other finalists. The three were among 32 player chosen for consideration, one from each team.

Winners must stand out for their work in the community and on the field.

From the Cardinals, on Fitzgerald:

"In August of 2012, he was honored with Pro Football Weekly’s Humanitarian of the Year Award for his outstanding community and charitable contributions. Through his two foundations -- the Larry Fitzgerald First Down Fund and the Carol Fitzgerald Memorial Fund -- he has helped thousands by providing funds for kids and families in crisis and to honor his late mother, Carol, has been heavily involved in furthering breast cancer awareness and research. He has served as a spokesman for the NFL’s A Crucial Catch campaign each of the last three seasons, donating funds for each reception and TD reception during the month of October.

"Globally, Fitzgerald has done extensive work with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, providing hearing aids for those in need throughout Africa. He has also traveled to Ethiopia with good friend and former teammate Anquan Boldin on behalf of Oxfam America, helping work on irrigation systems and digging wells in local communities. As part of his strong support of the military, Fitzgerald has helped raise money for the Semper Fi Fund, which benefits injured and critically ill members of the U.S. Armed Force; he also joined other NFL players on a USO Tour of Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009."

Kurt Warner won the 2008 version of the award as a member of the Cardinals. Seattle's Steve Largent (1988) was the only other winner associated with a current NFC West franchise.

The winner for this past season will be announced Feb. 2 on CBS.

Johnny Unitas was first to win the award, in 1970. The NFL added Payton's name to the award following the Hall of Fame running back's death. Payton had won the award for his contributions during the 1977 season.