Cotchery Jets Man of the Year

The New York Jets have named wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery the 2007 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Through his Cotchery Foundation and the New York Jets Community Relations Department, Jerricho has impacted many lives throughout the Tri-State area and Alabama.

As the Jets award winner, Jerricho will receive $1,000 to donate to the Cotchery Foundation, his 501(c)(3) organization of choice. He is eligible to win the national Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award and be recognized at a press conference during Super Bowl week in Arizona. The national winner will receive $25,000 to donate to the 501(c)(3) organization of his choice. Since 1970, the NFL has awarded the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award to recognize a player's off-the-field community service, as well as his playing excellence.

NFL Charities require a panel of at least six people to vote for the Man of the Year winner. Two-thirds (2/3) of the panel must be from outside the Jets organization, including one media representative and one non-profit/government representative. This year's panel included: Dan Leberfeld - Editor in Chief of Jets Confidential, C. J. Papa - Sports Director of WLNY-TV 55, Brooks Thomas - Director of Sports Special Events for the New York March of Dimes, Laura Dyer - Assistant Vice President Strategic Events and Community Relations for Davis Vision and two representatives from the Jets Community Relations Department.

Jerricho and his wife Mercedes created the Cotchery Foundation in January 2007 as a not-for-profit organization, established to benefit underprivileged youth. The Foundation's mission is to inspire children to conceive and achieve goals by providing programs and services designed to enhance their futures. The Cotchery Foundation hopes to plant seeds that bridge the gap between what you have and what you hope for, ultimately demonstrating that the two can be one and the same.

For each Jets home game, Jerricho gives 10 tickets through his foundation to residents from MercyFirst/St. Mary's Children and Family Foundation. MercyFirst/St. Mary's Children and Family Foundation is a foster home for troubled youth located on Long Island. On December 3, Jerricho will be hosting the grand opening of Lulu Couture at Americana Manhasset where 20 percent of the proceeds will benefit the Cotchery Foundation.

On May 23, Jerricho and Kerry Rhodes hosted the Cotchery Foundation/Rhodes Foundation first Annual Skills & Drills Football Clinic for underprivileged youth in Alabama. The event was open to students between ages 11-15. It was an amazing experience for all participants. There were opportunities to take photographs with and receive autographs from NFL players, in addition to learning skills that foster physical, mental and emotional growth. Most importantly, the participants were in the presence of individuals who share similar backgrounds, but have exercised opportunities to shape their futures.

In September, Jerricho along with his wife Mercedes adopted a newborn baby. Unable to have children, the couple turned to adoption after weighing numerous options. The couple came to this conclusion at the Professional Athletes Outreach, an annual NFL affiliated spiritual retreat in California last February.

This year, Jerricho has participated in many Jets community events and is scheduled to attend more. In May, Jerricho was present at the Jets Taste of the NFL event to benefit Shop Rite Partners in Caring. At the event, Jerricho auctioned off one-on-one experiences with himself to help raise additional funds for charity. He also played in the Jets Annual Golf Outing. On November 12, Jerricho supported Jets General Manager Mike Tannenbaum at the Hofstra Saltzman Community Services Center Benefit Dinner honoring Tannenbaum. In December, Jerricho will attend the Marty Lyons Foundation Holiday Party to meet and greet wish kids from the foundation.

Jerricho Cotchery was originally selected by the Jets in the fourth round of the 2004 NFL Draft. This season, Jerricho has 54 receptions for 730 yards and one touchdown. For his career, he has 159 receptions for 1,999 yards and seven touchdowns.