Alabama in the Pros

Trio of former Alabama players nominated for NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award

Jonathan Allen tackling Jets RB
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills - USA TODAY Sports

Alumni members of Alabama football are making a difference in the National Football League.

According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, thirty-two players have been nominated for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Named after Pro Football Hall of Fame running back, Walter Payton, the honor is presented to the player that best demonstrates volunteer and charity work, as well as excellence on the field. Prior to 1999, it was known as the Man of the Year award. Shortly after Payton’s death, the NFL renamed it to honor Payton’s legacy as a humanitarian in his community.

For the University of Alabama, three of its former student-athletes have been nominated for the award.

The trio of Jonathan Allen (Washington Football Team), Dalvin Tomlinson (New York Giants) and Bradley Bozeman (Baltimore Ravens) won at least one national championship and one Southeastern Conference title with the Crimson Tide.

Allen, a first-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, is in his fourth year at Washington.

Despite its struggles, he has the team at 5-7 this season and improving. He is responsible for 45 total tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss, with one fumble recovery. Allen grew up in foster care, so he always wanted to do something to help children. He has been involved in the Children of Fallen Patriots program and other groups in the Washington, D.C. area.

Tomlinson, a second-round pick in 2017, is in his fourth season at New York.

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He has helped the Giants to the No. 1 seed in the NFC East at 5-7. Tomlinson has 37 total tackles — including 1.5 sacks and six tackles for loss — with four pass breakups. Before he arrived at Alabama in its 2012 signing class, the native Georgian lost both of his parents (tragic deaths) and suffered a serious knee injury in high school on the soccer team. He would sustain another knee injury while playing for the Tide, but Tomlinson would fight through rehab and became one of the best defensive lineman.

Regardless of New York being a big city, he has fit right in. Tomlinson is a part of multiple volunteer projects that include American Cancer Society (ACS), American Diabetes Association (ADA), Kate’s Club and Good Grief. He enjoys visiting and encouraging the youth, especially with helping them understand how important a good education is in today’s society.

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Bozeman, a sixth-rounder in 2018, is in his third year at Baltimore.

The Ravens are 7-5 and still alive for a spot in the AFC playoffs. Bozeman has protected Lamar Jackson to throw for 2,055 yards with 17 touchdowns to seven interceptions. He also has the trio of Jackson, Gus Johnson and J.K. Dobbins (rookie) with four rushing scores apiece. Bozeman made it to the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs in 2019, but he wants to make a deeper run.

He and wife, Nikki, have their own foundation. The Bradley and Nikki Foundation helps families in the Baltimore community, while giving back to Bozeman’s hometown of Roanoke, Ala. He was not highly recruited at Handley High School, nevertheless, Bozeman was a quality offensive lineman for the Tide and has continued to perform well in the pros with the Ravens.

Crimson Tide fans are very proud of all three individuals.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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