Caring. Giving. Sharing. Loving.
Four simple words alone, but when combined together, perfectly describe Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats.
Moats' leadership and contributions on the field are easy to see, but what he does behind the scenes, what he does for those who need it the most, are where his huge heart shines and his smile is ever present.
That is why Moats has been named the Steelers' winner for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. Every NFL team names a winner, and they are all eligible to be the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year, presented by Nationwide. Three finalists will be selected and the winner announced the night before Super Bowl LI during the NFL Honors awards show.
"It's a huge honor," said Moats, who was also the Buffalo Bills winner when he played there in 2013. "I understand the community outreach. Just to be able to do it here and have that same type of impact definitely feels good.
"Walter Payton was a guy who implemented greatness both on and off the field. He was great in the community, but at the same time productive on the field. He was the ultimate professional. Someone you should strive to be like."
For the past two years Moats and his family have committed their hearts and resources to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, a passion that started with a simple visit to spend time with the kids and their families. It has grown into regular visits, where he is always uplifting the spirits of those there and providing encouragement and a diversion where it's needed most. From game nights, ice cream parties and cookie decorating to major financial commitments, Moats is all in. He and his wife, Shonda, donated viewfinders for the House's patio, giving those staying there amazing panoramic views of the City of Pittsburgh and surroundings. Moats, who was named to the Board of Directors of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Pittsburgh, and recently announced that he will be matching any donations made by the general public through the end of 2016 to the charity up to $55,000.
"For us it's about being going there to be a support system," said Moats. "If you can brighten their day just a little bit to help through a situation they are going through, that is the main objective. Just seeing everyone with the smile on their face makes me realize we are doing everything right."
The Moats family holds his alma mater dear to them, donating $300,000 to James Madison University last fall. A portion of that is used for an endowed scholarship for the university's studio art program, as well as a full scholarship level annual fund gift to the JMU Duke Club. A significant portion will support JMU's fundraising efforts for a new Convocation Center, and as a thank you the strength and conditioning area in the Plecker Athletics Performance Center will be named in honor of the Moats Family.
"I loved that school," said Moats. "I met my wife there, got an amazing college education and it also advanced my football career. It definitely holds a huge place in my heart. It's my second home. I wanted to make a statement and try to get more people aware and enthused about donating back to their colleges, in particular James Madison since it's my school.
"It shows my kids if you get in a situation where you can, it's all about helping out. I know the donation is going to help not just the school, but the community as well because of the revenue, job creation and different events they will be able to have at the new convocation center."
In celebration of the upcoming holidays, Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats took 20 kids from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western PA shopping for much needed clothing and accessories.
Moats recently took 20 teens from the LaRosa Boys & Girls Club in McKeesport, Pa. shopping at American Eagle Outfitters for apparel they otherwise wouldn't be able to have, providing each of the kids with a $200 gift card.
"It's something I did early on in my career, a way to give back," said Moats. "I love to do Christmas shopping. More than likely these kids aren't going to be able to have a great Christmas. Being able to give back like this is fun. I love to see their faces. I love the smiles and the excitement they show. The interaction is great."
While those are his main passions, his giving doesn't stop there. Ask him to go to a charity event, and he says yes faster than you can explain what it is. He supports the U.S. Military through visiting patients at the VA Hospital. Moats, who is blessed with three healthy children, visits Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh to spend time with the patients assisted on the phone bank during a recent telethon. He was part of a cooking competition for breast cancer survivors as part of the NFL's BCA initiative.
Moats said everything he does reflects his upbringing and the values instilled in him.
"When I was growing up, both of my parents were pastors," said Moats. "Just going into the inner city, rough neighborhoods, delivering bread on Saturday morning or Sunday after church and just seeing the impact that it had. Some of these people would truly have joy from the fact that we were giving them bread, nothing more nothing less. Early on seeing that it stuck with me and I wanted to make sure when I had a bigger platform I could do more."
To further celebrate and support the nominees, Nationwide will host the second annual Charity Challenge. As part of the social media challenge, each nominee will have a unique hashtag. The player hashtag that generates the most mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice, courtesy of Nationwide.
Fans are invited to vote for their favorite nominee by using that player's unique hashtag on any social media platform starting on December 12, 2016, and ending on January 8, 2017.
Steelers fans can vote for Moats using the hashtag, #MoatsWPMOYChallenge
Three of the 32 nominees will be selected as finalists, and the winner will be announced in Houston at NFL Honors, a two-hour primetime awards special to air nationally on February 4, 2017, the night before Super Bowl LI, from 8-10 p.m. (ET and PT) on FOX.
For more information on all team nominees and the award, visit www.NFL.com/manoftheyear.