Logan Ryan is Giants' nominee for 2021 NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

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Defensive back Logan Ryan has been named the Giants’ nominee for the NFL’s Walton Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually to recognize an NFL player for outstanding community service activities off the field, as well as excellence on the field.

Ryan hopes to become the second Giants winner ever in the 51-year history of the award, following Eli Manning, who co-won with Larry Fitzgerald in 2016.

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"It's amazing," Ryan told Giants.com about the nomination. "I knew when I came into this league that I wanted to give back, and that was always very important to me. It took time to figure out what my causes were going to be. It took time to figure out what was close to my heart, who to help, and how to help. It came organically. I felt like I've been doing good work for years. To be recognized, it's all about the timing and it's amazing. This is a great organization. It means a lot to be nominated by this organization, it's where I'm from, my hometown. It can't get any better."

Ryan grew up the son of a law enforcement officer in south Jersey, and does a lot of charity work around that field, but his main passion has long been animals, a group near and dear to his heart since childhood as well.

"We always had a dog growing up," Ryan said. "We had a golden retriever that we rescued in South Jersey. Her name was Amber for her color. She passed away when I was in high school, and I had her since I was four or five years old. It was heartbreaking because that pet becomes part of your family."

Among the charitable endeavors Logan has founded in that realm are Ryan’s Monthly Rescue and Ryan’s Animal Rescue Foundation – with whom he and wife, Ashley, gave out Thanksgiving meals and pet supplies to residents of Camden, N.J., close to his hometown of Berlin, last month.

"Logan is always trying to do something extra," Lester Ryan, Logan’s father, told Giants.com. “He's always asking me questions about how he should approach things. I tell him it's all about doing the right thing and always trying to help people that can't help themselves. He's all about that, so I'm very proud of him getting this honor."

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Logan and Ashley Ryan, who met at Rutgers, started those rescue foundations after Logan would join Ashley as a volunteer at the Providence Animal Rescue League when he was with the Patriots.

"It just dawned on me, 'Why don't I feature them on my Instagram?'" Ryan told Giants.com. "I started featuring one pet a month, and I called it the Ryan's Monthly Rescue. I had tremendous success and shelters in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut were calling us to drive down there on Tuesday and feature their animals. It turned into a big deal and slowly but surely, in a couple years, the Ryan's Monthly Rescue formed into RARF, a 51c3 nonprofit."

Ryan also works with homeless youth through the Covenant House in Newark, and recently founded Ryan Alternative Solutions Training, an idea borne out of the unrest following the death of George Floyd that aims to help better train law enforcement on de-escalation techniques and provide a bridge between law enforcement and the community.

“Our goal is to have a better relationship between people and the police,” Ryan said. “There needs to be more empathy between the police and the community and more empathy for the community and police because it's a tough job. We're trying to bring that bridge together with my platform as a black man in this country, as a National Football League player, and also the son of a police officer."

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The winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award will receives a $250,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice, while the other 31 finalists also receive donations in their name of up to $40,000 each to charities of their choice, courtesy of the NFL Foundation and Nationwide.

Ryan, along with the Jets’ Quinnen Williams and the other 30 nominees, will learn who wins on Thursday, Feb. 10, during the NFL Honors broadcast. Seattle’s Russell Wilson was last year’s winner.

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