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Antoine Bethea Named Cardinals' Walter Payton Man Of Year

Safety a nominee for NFL Payton honor, which will be announced Super Bowl week

Safety Antoine Bethea (right) holds up his Walter Payton Man of the Year trophy with team president Michael Bidwill during a press conference Thursday.
Safety Antoine Bethea (right) holds up his Walter Payton Man of the Year trophy with team president Michael Bidwill during a press conference Thursday.

Antoine Bethea has written a book meant to inspire people, he met with Governor Doug Ducey with teammates to try and find a way for prison reform, and he's taken part in countless community events for the Cardinals.

So Thursday, the veteran safety was named as the Cardinals' Walter Payton Man of the Year for 2018. Bethea was named the Colts' Man of the Year in 2013.

Bethea can now make a $50,000 donation to the charity of his choice and an additional $50,000 will be made in his name to expands the United Way Character Playbook program in Arizona. Bethea also gets two Super Bowl tickets to give to someone in the community.

"This means a lot to me, just to come out and lend a helping hand to the less fortunate," Bethea said. "We are in a position, we have a great platform, where we can do things and help people. It's an honor. I'm glad I can represent this fine organization."

The NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year will be named on Super Bowl Eve in Atlanta. Larry Fitzgerald was named NFL Man of the Year with Eli Manning in 2016; Kurt Warner won it with the Cardinals in 2008. Patrick Peterson won the Cardinals' honor last season.

"Antoine has done an amazing job in the community, and not just this community, but every community of the teams he has played for," Cardinals president Michael Bidwill said.

Bethea created the "Safe Coverage Foundation" in 2010, which hosts college visits for needy students from his hometown of Newport News, Virginia and provides scholarship help. His "Safe Coverage Technology Program" provides laptops and iPads for high school seniors.

Bethea sells "AB41" merchandise through his website with all profits going to the fight against breast cancer. His autobiography, "Bet On Yourself" will be released Dec. 10 and is available for pre-order.

His work with Bidwill and teammates like Corey Peters and Tre Boston on prison reform -- specifically having programs in place to help those who have served their debt to society with a completed prison term allowing them to reintegrate into a regular life -- has grown important.

"The dialogue is very important," Bethea said. "The Governor taking time out of his busy schedule to listen to some of our concerns plays a major part. Obviously there is a long road ahead of us, but being able to start somewhere, being able to go to the jail, see these programs they have in place ... that's big. Continuing to have these conversations, getting out in the community to make a difference, I think we can get somewhere."