Kelvin Beachum was lying on a massage table Monday night when he received a text from Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, telling the offensive lineman to give him a call.
Beachum initially thought the matter was about something team-related but instead was an early congratulations on being named the Cardinals’ Walter Payton Man of the Year. The official announcement hit social media the following morning.
Beachum is now one of 32 players in contention to become the NFL's Man of the Year, an honor that spotlights a player's volunteer and charity work off the field.
Bidwill – who met Beachum in 2017 as members of the NFL's social justice committee, a group of players and owners who work together to promote justice reform and other social issues – presented Beachum with the award Thursday after practice.
"It's truly an honor to be recognized and presented with this award in front of your peers," Beachum said Friday. "I think it's one of the highlights of my career. It's one thing to play football but having the locker room's respect is what any player strives for.
"They loved it," Beachum said. "My biggest supporter was Captain Kirk (Christian Kirk) jumping up behind me, so it was great. To have that respect and appreciation from teammates, coaches, and staff – I've only been here two years – some guys know me from working out and training in the offseason from the offensive line. But to be able to have that from other players across the locker room is special."
Beachum was also named the Jets' Man of the Year in 2018.
The award was established in 1970 and renamed after Hall of Famer rusher Walter Payton in 1999. Beachum will receive a $40,000 donation to give to any charity of his choosing. The overall winner of the award will receive a $250,000 donation to gift to any charity of his choice.
If Beachum ends up the winner, he won't be the first Cardinal to do so. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner captured the 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, before playing in his third Super Bowl. Cardinals legendary wideout Larry Fitzgerald was named a co-winner of the 2016 award with Giants quarterback Eli Manning. Current Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt, then a member of the Houston Texans, won the honor in 2017.
Bidwill said one of the reasons he was excited about the opportunity to bring Beachum into the organization was his impact off the field.
"His impacts have been across the board from working at Food Banks to combat food insecurity issues," Bidwill said. "He's working on getting computers and equipment for the kids and teachers and providing resources to schools. Each year he's doing different things around the holidays as well. He has the broadest range of different interests that I've seen of any player in my career."
JOSEPH PREPARES FOR RAMS ADJUSTMENTS
The Rams dominated Jacksonville in Week 13 after suffering three consecutive losses to playoff-caliber teams. The change in their offensive approach was recognizable in the victory. Their pass-heavy attack with quarterback Matthew Stafford, who had thrown five interceptions combined in those defeats, was gone.
Head coach Sean McVay instead decided to use a more run-heavy strategy, resulting in Stafford enjoying a much cleaner game and finishing without throwing an interception for the first time since Week 9. Los Angeles had over 100 rushing yards in a game for the first time since Week 9.
Cardinals' defensive coordinator Vance Joseph noticed the adjustments and expects the Rams to use the same strategy against them Monday night. Through 13 games, the Cardinals are surrendering 113.7 rushing yards per game, which is 17th in the NFL.
"It obviously was being a run-first offense and dictating the down in the distance and not turning the ball over," Joseph said. "That's the key in forcing the defense to make stops this time of year, and it works when you have that kind of talent.
"I'm assuming that's going to be their plan this week."
Defensive tackle Zach Kerr (ribs) was the only Cardinal to sit out practice. Guard Justin Pugh (calf), tight end Zach Ertz (shoulder), cornerback Byron Murphy (foot), and Jonathan Ward (illness) were limited. Defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who remains on IR, was working again on a side field.
For the Rams, offensive lineman Brian Allen (knee), linebacker Terrell Lewis (back), cornerback Robert Rochell (chest) and linebacker Von Miller (personal) didn't practice. Running back Darrell Henderson (thigh) was limited.