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Colts nominate Shaquille Leonard for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

Shaquille Leonard might not be on the field for the Colts the rest of this season, but his impact through the Maniac Foundation has not slowed a bit.

Now, the Colts are nominating him for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.

The NFL released the nominees for all 32 teams Tuesday. The award honors players who have represented respect, integrity, resiliency, and responsibility on and off the field. Last year, cornerback Kenny Moore II won the Colts' nomination.

Leonard has been an active part of the Indianapolis community since the Colts drafted him in the second round out of South Carolina State in 2018. He's one of the leading voices for the franchise's "Kicking the Stigma" campaign, which raises money and creates open conversations regarding mental health.

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Leonard launched his own Maniac Foundation to host events to help in the community. His latest event was a Thanksgiving giveaway in which he donated 200 meal kits to families. He put on the event just one week after undergoing season-ending back surgery.

Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) reacts after a play Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard (53) reacts after a play Sunday, Sept. 25, 2022, during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“I just hate seeing a family around the holidays worry about if they’ll have enough money for food," Leonard said that day. "God has blessed me to be where I'm at today, so I always try to be a blessing."

Leonard has had a trying season on the field. Fresh off a fourth All-Pro campaign in four seasons, he underwent surgery in June to correct a nerve issue that had been shooting pain down into his calf and ankle. He sat out training camp and practiced for weeks without playing in order to get right for the games. But he managed to play parts of just three contests, a stretch interrupted by a brain injury and a broken nose, before the Colts shut him down for the season with a second back surgery.

His plan now is to use the time in the offseason to heal in a way he didn't the last time around so he can again be the player fans have grown to love on the field. The man they know off the field hasn't gone anywhere.

"I am still The Maniac," Leonard said. "I believe I still have the capability of going out there and making plays. I keep the receipts of everything anyone's ever said about me, and I'm looking at the tweets, I'm seeing everything, and I'm just ready to go out and prove everybody wrong once again."

Contact Colts insider Nate Atkins at natkins@indystar.com. Follow him on Twitter @NateAtkins_.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Shaquille Leonard is Colts Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee