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Trey Flowers named Lions' Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

The Detroit Lions have named defensive end Trey Flowers the team's nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, an annual honor that recognizes a player for outstanding community service activities off the field, in addition to excellence on the field.

"Walter Payton was a great person, what he stood for, a legacy lives on forever," Flowers said in a statement. "It's about the things that you do with the time that you have on this earth. I just hope that a long time from now, people can remember the impact that I had on their lives and the impact that I had on the community. I hope that my foundation can continue to do great things in the community.

Trey Flowers

"I just want to inspire, I want to encourage because I know how important it is," Flowers said. "This world, in order to get better we have to inculcate the things that we've experienced and the knowledge that we have on to the youth, which leads them to be even better.”

A 2019 free-agent addition for the Lions, Flowers emerged as one of the team's leading voices on social issues this past year, while contributing both his time and money to several important causes, including the team's voting initiatives.

"He’s really been a little bit more of an outspoken leader here, particularly this spring, in terms of social injustices and things that were happening," interim coach Darrell Bevell said. "He really kind of stepped forward. He’s not a man of a lot of words, but when he spoke up, a lot of the guys were listening."

The defensive end's Flowers of the Future foundation, established in 2019, has been committed to helping under-served youth in both Detroit and his hometown of Huntsville, Ala. Included in that mission was a $15,000 donation to the Huntsville Inner City Learning Center and a holiday event with the Methodist Children's Home Society in Detroit. He also started a scholarship program for Huntsville-area high school students. 

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"It's the joy of bringing a smile to a child's face," Flowers told The Detroit News this summer. "When you're grown up, you have a lot of obligations, a lot of priorities. You've got bills. When you're a kid, you're free. You're free-minded to think and do. You're not blocked by doubt, by fear, by opinions you might experience as you get older. I love to tap into the freedom, that imagination and dream mindset and encouraging them to keep that courage. As we get older, I don't know, some people do what they have to do instead of want to do. You should always strive to do what you want, living out your dreams. That's one of things I want to encourage."

In 2020, much of Flowers' off-field efforts have focused on causes related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as voter registration initiatives. He participated in the Lions Virtual Voter Education and Registration Town Hall with Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and RISE to Vote, while acting as moderator in the Players Coalition and Michigan Voting “Your Vote Matters: How to Cast Yours in Michigan” Virtual Town Hall with Michigan Lieutenant Governor Garlin Gilchrist.

Flowers commitment to the democratic process is fueled by his family's history. This offseason, he revealed that multiple relatives had participated in the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965. 

"It kind of hit kind of close to home knowing that my grandmomma, my grandfather, uncles, they were that close to being sacrificed and just putting their life on the line for voting," Flowers said in June. 

As a nominee for the Man of the Year award, Flowers will receive a $40,000 donation in his name to his charity of choice. The winner, which will be announced the week of the Super Bowl, will receive a $250,000 donation. 

Flowers has been on injured reserve since Nov. 1 with an arm injury. In seven games this season, he's recorded 22 tackles and 2.0 sacks.