Watt headlines nominees for Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award

Houston Texans star J.J. Watt was among the nominees for the 2017 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

The NFL announced the 32 team nominees on Thursday and Watt headlined the list, with the winner to be announced on the eve of Super Bowl LII on February 3.

The award recognises players' outstanding contributions to the game and to their communities.

Watt raised more than $37million for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston in August.

"NFL players are outstanding, generous men of character who give back to their communities," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said.

"Walter Payton represented the very best on and off the field and this year's Man of the Year nominees exemplify his legacy of philanthropy and leadership. We are proud to support players as they use their platforms to drive positive change."

There is a new twist this year, with previous winners of the award to wear a special jersey patch of Payton's cloaked silhouette. 

New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was the first to don the jersey patch for Thursday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Brees, New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning, Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis, Arizona Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald and Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten will wear the jersey patch beginning this week.

All 2017 nominees will also wear a Man of the Year helmet decal through the end of the season, in recognition of their accomplishments on and off the field. This tradition will continue for future nominees and winners of the award.

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