When David Johnson first got into the NFL in 2015, it wasn't just a role on the team he sought.
The running back, along with his then-girlfriend and now wife Meghan, wanted to immediately get into the community and "be there for kids."
"When I was young I had so much help," Johnson said Thursday, when he was named the Cardinals' 2019 choice as Walter Payton Man of the Year. "From teachers, coaches, parents, friends, friends' parents. I had so much help to get here. Even in college, in this league, I get help from mentors.
"I knew that was one of the first things I wanted to do, as soon as I had the ability to do so."
With the award, Johnson receives a donation of up to $50,000 that he can give to a charity of his choice. He also gets two Super Bowl tickets to award to community recipients of his choice.
Johnson, along with the other 31 team honorees, is now eligible to be named the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year, which is named on Super Bowl eve in February.
It is the impact of the work that fuels Johnson's community quest even further. He started back in high school, working with elementary school kids, so Johnson has a history of community work.
"It's really enlightening to see the positive that has come out of it," Johnson said.
Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald was named the NFL's Man of the Year – sharing the award with the Giants' Eli Manning – for the 2016 season. Quarterback Kurt Warner won it with the Cardinals for the 2008 season.
"This is one of my favorite days of the year," chairman and team president Michael Bidwill said while introducing Johnson at his press conference.
David and Meghan created the "Johnson Family’s Mission 31 Foundation" to offer support and resources to the families of seriously ill children. The couple also launched "David's Locker," a mobile cart with iPads, laptops, gaming consoles and assorted video games, that goes to pediatric hospitals or other places where children and their families might be dealing with difficult times.
Johnson has also made anti-bullying a cause, and been a regular volunteer during his time in Arizona at community events such as kids camps and hospital visits.
"It's showing it's not just what I do on the field, it's what I do in the community, what my wife and I do, to help out," Johnson said.