Friday, November 14, 2008

Packers tackle nominated for NFL Man of Year Award

By Steve Prestegard

November 12, 2008

Packers offensive tackle Mark Tauscher has been selected as the Packers’ 2008 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year.

As the Packers’ winner of the award, Tauscher will receive a $1,000 donation for his TRIFECTA (Tauscher’s Reading Initiative For Every Child To Achieve) Foundation, which he established in 2005.

He also is nominated for the league-wide award to be selected from 32 NFL players. Four finalists for the award will receive an additional $5,000 and be invited to the Super Bowl in Tampa, with the winner announced on field directly before kickoff of the game. The winner will receive a $25,000 donation to the 501(c)3 organization of his choice.

Tauscher is in the midst of his ninth season as a starter for the Packers and has played in 118 career games with 116 starts. He bounced back from a significant groin injury that snapped a 57-game starting streak in 2006 and sidelined him for five games, then went on to play in all 16 games in 2007, topping all Packers offensive players by playing 94.5 percent of the offensive snaps as Green Bay had the league’s second-ranked offense. A popular home-state hero, the former Wisconsin Badger entered the league as a seventh-round draft pick in 2000.

The Marshfield native’s involvement in the community has included various visits to local schools, hospitals, food pantries and civic organizations. He has recorded public service announcements in support of nonprofit groups, and has spoken with youth football players. He also attended a dinner in support and appreciation of local military families. Tauscher was part of the Packers’ second annual Tailgate Tour in 2007, visiting various Wisconsin cities with both scheduled and unscheduled stops, reaching out to literally thousands of fans and thanking them for their enduring and enthusiastic support of the club through the years. He also spent a week traveling with pediatric cancer patients to participate in winter activities around Wisconsin as part of former college teammate Jerry Wunsch’s Circle of Friends program. In addition, Tauscher has regularly attended the Families of Children with Cancer annual holiday party, sharing dinner and playing games with the guests. He also organized a charity basketball game to benefit cancer research.

In 2005, Tauscher established the TRIFECTA (Tauscher’s Reading Initiative For Every Child To Achieve) Foundation; its mission is to benefit literacy and education in the state of Wisconsin. He has held golf outings each of the past three springs to raise money for the foundation, and with Associated Bank, TRIFECTA has raised more than $110,000 for distribution in the state of Wisconsin. He has backed the fundraising efforts and community outreach of his teammates and coaches; he participated in both the Brett Favre Fourward Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament and the Brett Favre Celebrity Softball Game, the “Evening of Elegance” which goes to support the Donald Driver Foundation, as well as the Edgar Bennett Celebrity Bowl-A-Thon. He has golfed in the Green Bay Packers Golf Invitational as well as the Vince Lombardi Charitable Funds Golf Classic. In April 2008, he received the Professional Achievement Award at the annual Lee Remmel Sports Awards Banquet.

The Man of the Year honor is the only league award that recognizes player off-the-field community service as well as playing excellence. This year’s finalists — one player from each NFL team — have demonstrated an outstanding balance between civic and professional responsibilities in their lives this season.

The prestigious award was renamed in 1999 for the legendary Chicago Bears Pro Football Hall of Fame running back. The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award has been given annually since 1970.

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