Ravens linebacker Roquan Smith has been an excellent addition to the team on the football field and to Baltimore as a whole off the gridiron. That's why the franchise nominated their linebacker for the NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year award for the 2023 season, as announced on Tuesday.
The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recognizes a player's commitment to charitable work alongside their on-field performance, which are two things Smith has always been above average at, to say the least.
The announcement was made by head coach John Harbaugh to the players on Monday.
Speaking about his nomination, Smith said it is "a tremendous honor," adding, "I've always loved making other people smile. I'm very grateful and just want to continue making a difference."
Clifton Brown of BaltimoreRavens.com wrote a very nice post about Smith's upbringing touching on his past and his contributions to the communities he's been part of in the past and now that he's in Baltimore.
Smith, who hails from a little rural town in Georgia, has always been connected to his surroundings and helping those around him as they did with and to him in the past.
"Growing up in a town with 1,000 people, no stoplights, I knew what it meant when people gave back to that community," Smith said. "Now that I'm in a position to give back, it means the world to me. I'll never take it for granted. I'll always be purposeful in everything I do."
It's interesting how Brown notes in his story that Smith's awareness of the Walter Payton Award deepened during his tenure with the Chicago Bears, the team he played for before the Ravens traded from him.
That's because the Bears were Walter Payton's only NFL team. between the 1975 and 19877 seasons, and also the franchise he became a Super Bowl champion with back in the 1985 season.
While in Chicago, Smith met members of the Payton family and practiced at the Walter Payton Center, the Bears' indoor facility named in the late Hall of Famer's honor.
"Walter did things for kids that they'll remember for life," Smith acknowledged