Former Air Force football standout and current NFL offensive lineman for the Atlanta Falcons Ben Garland was recently nominated by the team for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award. This is the second time Garland has been nominated for the prestigious NFL award, as he was also nominated when he played with the Denver Broncos in 2014.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award recognizes an NFL player for his excellence on and off the field. The award was established in 1970. It was renamed in 1999 after the late Hall of Fame Chicago Bears running back, Walter Payton. Each team nominates one player who has had a significant positive impact on his community.
A donation of $500,000 dollars will be made in the name of the 2017 winner. $250,000 will be donated to the winner's charity of choice and $250,000 will be donated in his name to expand Character Playbook across the country. The two other finalists will each receive a $100,000 donation to their charity of choice and a $100,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All other 29 nominees will receive a $50,000 donation to their charity of choice and an additional $50,000 donation in their names to expand Character Playbook. All donations are courtesy of the NFL Foundation, Nationwide and United Way Worldwide.
Garland was signed by the Denver Broncos on April 25, 2010 after going undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft. He later was signed to the Atlanta Falcons' practice squad on September 9, 2015. On December 15, 2015, he was signed to the active roster. On January 14, 2017, Garland lined up at defensive tackle and recorded his first career safety on a tackle of Russell Wilson during the NFC Divisional Playoff against the Seattle Seahawks.
Garland was stationed at Scott Air Force Base as a Public Affairs Officer from 2010 to 2012 while assigned to the Denver Broncos Military Reserve players list. Garland held the rank of second lieutenant during this time.
Garland was approved for his separation from active duty in May 2012 and joined the Colorado Air National Guard as a Public Affairs Officer with the 140th Wing stationed at Buckley Air Force Base in Aurora, Colorado. He is currently a captain and fulfills his military obligation between NFL seasons.
Garland is active in many charities including Touchdowns for Tomorrow which raises money for at rink teenage students, 16 Ways Foundation Youth Football Camp which is for at risk youth to build self-esteem and promote taking responsibility for your actions, as well as dozens more.
Garland was a four-year lettermen and three-year starter at defensive line at Air Force. He helped the Falcons to a nine-win season in 2007 and eight-win seasons in 2008 and 2009. He was named the team’s most valuable player in 2009 while earning second-team all-Mountain West honors.