The Bears’ all-time leading receiver is Walter Payton with 492 receptions.


The NFL announced Sunday that New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning is one of three finalists for this year’s Man of the Year award, given annually to honor a player for his off-field contributions.

The winner among the Arizona Cardinals wide receiver, New York Giants quarterback and Carolina Panthers tight end will be announced on Feb. 4, the night before the Super Bowl, at NFL Honors in Houston. The Associated Press individual NFL awards also will be handed out then, on the eve of the Super Bowl.

Don’t let that one point escape you, either. Walter Payton is the best running back to ever play the game. He played for some [poopy] teams and was still a boss. Plus, he played past that 30-year-old barrier that knocks down other running backs. He could catch. He could run. And he could even throw the ball. The only guy I can really remember who did anything close to him is LaDainian Tomlinson.

Briscoe won the Walter Payton Award on Friday night over two other finalists, receiver Cooper Kupp and quarterback Gage Gubrud, both from Eastern Washington. Briscoe, who transferred from UAB after it shut down its football program, passed for 4,602 yards and 57 touchdowns for the Bearkats (12-1).

Hey, remember when the Saints were 0-2 and the defense was wretched and Adrian Peterson was scowling at Sean Payton and New Orleans seemed destined for yet another 7-9 finish in a best-case scenario? Yeah, that seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?

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In the last 30 years, the Jets had exactly three seasons in which they had legitimate above-average play at the game’s most important position. Vinny Testaverde in 1998, Chad Pennington in 2002, and Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2015. If you want to be charitable, you can throw in Brett Favre in 2008, but he played through an arm injury in the final month that ruined their season, and besides, it seems like the football cognoscenti all quietly decided to strike Favre’s one-year pitstop in Jersey from the history books. Fine with me.

Nike Bears #34 Walter Payton Navy Blue Throwback Men's Stitched NFL Elite Jersey
Nike Bears #34 Walter Payton Navy Blue Throwback Men’s Stitched NFL Elite Jersey

“The message to Mark will be between me and Mark,” Payton said after Sunday’s win. I’m sure you’re going to think the receiver battle is one-sided affair. And it is. The Bears’ all-time leading receiver is Walter Payton with 492 receptions. But here’s the thing … Ah, forget it. We’re a running team.

True to his quiet nature, Manning doesn’t advertise these efforts very much. But when he was selected as the Giants’ nominee for this award last month, he made it clear he’s proud of the work he does off the field. This is an award for pro football players who recognize and wholesale jerseys appreciate the significance of their roles in people’s lives, and Manning clearly fits that description.

Instead of relying on the pass-heavy offense that has carried this team for most of the 11 years that Sean Payton has coached it, the Saints are now asking their defense to do more heavy lifting. As a result, they’ve won five straight games after starting the season 0-2.

The question is whether Sean Payton will be comfortable handing the ball to his best running back with the game on the line down the road. The Saints’ coach benched Ingram for nearly a full game last year after fumbling issues. There simply isn’t enough time or space to list all of Payton’s incredible accomplishments. He is remembered — Payton passed away in 1999, at the age of 45 — as one of the best players to ever step onto a football field.

The recipient of this season’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award presented by Nationwide will be one of three veteran players with two Super Bowl rings and four Super Bowl appearances between them.

He had no FBS scholarship offers out of high school in Burlington, Wisconsin. After winning the Walter Payton Award as the FCS’ best player as a senior at Eastern Illinois, he received a late invite to the NFL combine, then went undrafted. He spent 3 1/2 seasons as the backup to a second-round bust, two former minor league baseball players and two has-been No. 1 picks.