Benjamin Watson has been one of the most dependable members of the Ravens offense this year.
But the Ravens tight end is just as, if not more, special off the field.
Watson has been named the Ravens’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. Each of the 32 teams has a nominee. Three finalists will be chosen in January and the winner will be announced the night before Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
“We are proud to recognize Benjamin Watson for the work he does to educate, empower and enrich the lives of those in need,” Ravens President Dick Cass stated.
“He is a recognized leader in every community he serves and is a shining example of compassion and inspiration. He has helped people not only in many NFL communities, but also in areas all over the world.”
Watson was a finalist for the award during the 2015 season when he was a member of the New Orleans Saints. San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin, a former Raven, won it that year.
"It's humbling," Watson said of being the Ravens' choice this year. "Over the course of my career, you never do things expecting there's going to be some sort of honor, but to be honored as the Walter Payton Man of the Year is something I cherish."
Even though he suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last season, Watson remained heavily invested in both the Baltimore, nationwide and international community.
He and his wife, Kirsten, who have five children (Eden, Grace, Naomi, Isaiah and Judah), assist countless people through his charitable arm, the One More Foundation.
A vehicle to “carry the hope and love of Christ to those who need it most, while understanding that the best and most efficient way to reach people's hearts is by first meeting their physical needs,” One More's mission is to bless individuals wherever they are, whether supporting existing charities or initiating programs of its own.
Most recently, One More partnered with the International Justice Mission (IJM) to help fight sex trafficking. Watson and his wife went to the Dominican Republic in June to see the effort first-hand, and decided to dedicate more resources to help the world’s largest international anti-slavery organization combat human trafficking, modern-day slavery and other forms of violence against the poor.
In April, Watson took a three-day trip to Lebanon, where he witnessed the Middle East’s refugee crisis and spent time talking with Syrian refugees and organizers trying to help.
Watson is very active during this holiday season. He hosts the Big BENefit, which offers 25 underserved families an opportunity to provide holiday gifts for their children. Each parent is brought to a local Walmart and is surprised with dinner and a $300 gift card to shop with their favorite Raven.
Additionally, Watson hosts an annual Turkey Drop by donating 50 turkeys to Adopt-A-Block, helping families in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. In 2016, he donated 200 Chick-fil-A meals to first responders assisting with cleanup efforts following devastating floods in Ellicott City, Md.
Watson also started a campaign with Donors Choose, where One More matches all donations made. This year’s contributions go directly to benefit local schools in Baltimore, allowing teachers to purchase tools (books, art supplies, iPads, etc.) that enhance their children’s educational experience.
Named one of CNN’s Most Extraordinary People of the Year (2014), Watson regularly appears on FOX News and CNN to discuss issues such as race, persecution, ISIS, civil unrest and social responsibility.
He has also authored two books: “The New Dad’s Playbook: Gearing Up for the Biggest Game of Your Life,” featuring advice and info on being a father, and “Under Our Skin: Getting Real about Race – Getting Free from the Fears and Frustrations that Divide Us,” a challenging look at race, bias and justice, following the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., several years ago.