CINCINNATI -- Linebacker Vincent Rey was named Tuesday the Cincinnati Bengals' nominee for the NFL's annual Man of the Year award named after former Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton.
The award goes to one of 32 players who are considered the best on their teams at community service and philanthropy. Some of them have granted scholarships and formed foundations promoting literacy.
"I'm humbled by that, and I'm grateful," Rey said of the nomination.
Three of the nominees will be selected as finalists for the award in January before the winner is announced in Arizona the day before the Super Bowl.
Payton, the legendary Bears running back, died in 1999.
Each of the 32 team nominees receive a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to give to a charity of their choice. Rey will be handing his check to Envision Children, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that promotes childhood education and tutors kids for college-entrance tests like the ACT. Rey has worked with the group in the past, as have some of his teammates.
"I do my part in the community, and the reason I do is I feel it's important to give back," Rey said. "I've been given so much growing up, just from role models like my father to teachers to coaches, and I just want to reciprocate that and do the same thing."
The three finalists will receive an additional $5,000 donation, and the winner will be awarded an additional $20,000 donation in his name.
Rey hopes to be the last man standing.
In addition to his work with Envision Children, Rey also is known throughout the region for his work locally with United Way, various school systems and other service endeavors he undertakes. Most Tuesdays when the Bengals are off, Rey is doing some type of service. Even this Tuesday -- one in which the Bengals weren't off due to this week's schedule before next Monday's game -- he planned to spend time at an area orphanage.
"It's Christmas time, and being in an orphanage this time of year can be a sad time," Rey said. "Whenever I get a chance, I try to go and do something and be involved."
He and his fiance also are spokespeople for a charity 5K in Cincinnati in April that benefits the Aruna Project. The organization is committed to helping women who escaped the sex traffic trade in South Asia by providing them the means to get sustainable employment.