TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – As a Super Bowl champion, three-time Pro-Bowler and former NFL offensive rookie of the year, Anquan Boldin is already in elite company.
He joined an even more exclusive club on Saturday night.
Boldin, a receiver at Florida State from 1999-2002, was named the Walter Payton Man of the Year during Saturday’s NFL Honors event. The award is presented annually to a player who has a significant positive impact on his community.
Boldin is the third former Seminole to receive the honor. Former linebacker Derrick Brooks earned the award in 2000, while former running back Warrick Dunn followed suit in 2004.
Former Seminoles Derrick Brooks, Anquan Boldin and Warrick Dunn pose with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award Trophy. Photo courtesy of Derrick Brooks.
“When I first got into the NFL nobody could tell me anything. I was living life,” Boldin told NFL.com. “I had achieved my dream of one day making it into the NFL, but I soon realized that’s not what life is all about. I realized my purpose in life was not to make it to the NFL and score touchdowns.
“God put me on this earth for something much bigger than that and I realized and understand what my purpose is now. … It’s my prayer and my hope that I can live out the rest of my life honoring God and help as many people as possible.”
A donation of $55,000 will be made to the charity of Boldin’s choice. The other two finalists, Eli Manning of the Giants and Ben Watson of the Saints, will each receive $11,000 donations.
Boldin founded his Q81 Foundation in 2004 with the goal of expanding educational and life opportunities for underprivileged children.
Q81’s impact has spread throughout Boldin’s hometown of Pahokee, Fla., the three NFL cities in which he has played – Phoenix, Baltimore and San Francisco – and even parts of Africa.
Through efforts like the Q81 Summer Enrichment Program and the Q81 Scholarship Fund, Boldin has raised and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars over the last several years.
In 2014, Boldin and his wife, Dionne, announced a $1 million endowment to the Q81 foundation that will be used for an annual distribution of scholarships to high school graduates.
“For me, it’s not just one story. There’s lots of stories,” said Boldin, who was also a finalist for the award last year. “…Because I don’t think you just change that one person’s life. I think that person will go on and help somebody else, and help change somebody else’s life as well. It’s an ongoing cycle.”