Most people understood Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey’s actions after he saw Myles Garrett hit Mason Rudolph with a helmet. He was protecting his quarterback.
Still, Pouncey had to be suspended by the NFL for kicking and punching Garrett while he was on the ground. It was one of the most infamous brawls in NFL history and a hot topic for days. Pouncey was in the middle of it. Pouncey got a three-game suspension, later reduced to two games upon appeal.
For casual football fans, the brawl is how they know Pouncey’s name. But Pouncey is also actively involved in the community, and that’s why he was the Steelers’ nominee for the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award. That award honors players for their community service. Given the other headlines with Pouncey, it was a bit surprising to see his name on the list, though nobody would doubt that he deserves it.
NFL announces Walter Payton Man of the Year nominees
The NFL announced the 32 finalists for the award, one from each team. It includes some of the NFL’s biggest stars, like Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner and Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award presented by @Nationwide honors players who have not only exhibited excellence on-the-field, but whose passion to impact lives extends beyond the game. Meet this year’s nominees: https://t.co/UXT71rnv2F. #WPMOY pic.twitter.com/MrNdNhxZfm
— NFL (@NFL) December 12, 2019
Pouncey’s off-field passion was to improve relations between the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and the community, according to the Steelers’ site.
“This is big for me and my brother (Mike),” Pouncey told Steelers.com, referencing his brother Mike, a center for the Los Angeles Chargers. “We like to give back to the community, especially where we are from and the cities where we play. I have gotten a lot of support in both areas. It would be crazy just to pick the place where I grew up, and not here in Pittsburgh too. I just love the people here. Working with the police, knowing how good of people they are. It’s too hard not to give back. I wouldn’t feel right. I couldn’t sleep.
“It’s a good thing. We are very blessed to have the money and success we have, so it’s only right to do it. We did the stuff growing up, helping out with different events, even before we made it to the NFL. We were always giving back. We are just taking it to the next level. It’s our responsibility to do this. All the blessings you have, I might look at it differently than other people, but you should do this.”
Maurkice Pouncey has a foundation as well
The Pouncey brothers also started Team Pouncey Foundation, which assists programs that provide opportunities for at risk youth, according to the Steelers’ site.
It has to be rare for a player to get suspended multiple games for a fight and also be nominated for the NFL’s top community service award in the same season, but again, nobody really blamed Pouncey for rushing to the aid of his teammate.
Serious NFL fans know Pouncey as one of the best centers of this era and a potential Hall of Famer. Others might just remember him from the brawl. But there’s clearly more to him than football or a fight.
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