On ESPN’s Monday Night Football, former Dallas Cowboys QB and NFL Hall of Fame member Troy Aikman announced that current Cowboys DE DeMarcus Lawrence will be the team’s nominee for the 2023 Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Aikman is a former winner of this award in 1997, as was Roger Staubach in 1978, and Dak Prescott last year. Jason Witten is the only non-Cowboys QB to win the award (2012), meaning Lawrence has a chance to be their first defensive player recognized, and first defender overall since 2019.
At 31 years old, Lawrence continues to be an irreplaceable member of Dan Quinn’s defense, with a knack for making clutch plays. Lawrence being one of the best run defenders in the NFL is nothing new, but his consistency in this area while the Cowboys have worked through injuries at linebacker and in the secondary continues to set the tone for Dallas up front, making a key fourth-down stop in their most recent win versus the Seahawks.
The Walter Payton Man of the Year award doesn’t just consider the on-field leadership that players like Prescott and Lawrence provide, but also charitable work off the field where Lawrence has been active in the DFW area.
If Lawrence does win the award, it will be the first time players from the same team have won it since 1972-73, the third and fourth year of the award. Willie Lanier and Len Dawson were both with the Chiefs when they won. With Lawrence showing no sign of slowing down, the Cowboys could also have two active winners of the award playing together for multiple seasons.
All 32 teams’ nominees for this prestigious award will be announced on Tuesday, as the Cowboys turn their attention to their biggest primetime game of the season on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Eagles.