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 NEW YORK (AP) -Hines Ward, Jason Taylor, Jason Witten and Brian Waters were selected as finalists for the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The winner will be announced at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on Feb. 3. The award named for Hall of Famer Walter Payton is the only league award that recognizes community involvement and service, as well as on-field performance.
Ward, a four-time Pro Bowl receiver for the Steelers, established a foundation in 2006 to assist biracial children in South Korea who face discrimination, and hosted eight Korean kids for a weekend in Pittsburgh this season.
``Being selected as a finalist for the 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year is a tremendous honor for me and for my foundation,'' Ward said in a statement. ``My charitable efforts dually represent the values that my mother instilled in me as a young child and my desire to make the world a better place for all children, in particular those of mixed race who face discrimination in Korea. I hope my nomination raises even more awareness of this cause that is so near and dear to my heart.''
Taylor, Miami's leader in career sacks, launched a reading room through his foundation, to address illiteracy among inner-city youth.
Waters, an offensive lineman for Kansas City, has volunteered regularly at a youth homeless shelter in Dallas and started a foundation to help children in his hometown of Waxahachie, Texas, as well as Kansas City.
Witten led Dallas in receptions this season and is headed to his fourth straight Pro Bowl. His foundation provides support and assistance to people affected by domestic violence, and has an annual free football camp in his hometown, Elizabethton, Tenn. He has also starred in public-service announcements for the NFL's Play 60 program, which stresses the importance of getting children active.
``To be a finalist is a great honor and I am proud just to be mentioned in the same breath as Mr. Payton,'' Witten said in a statement. ``I respect and admire what he stood for - as an NFL player and in his life away from the game.''
Recent winners of the award include Drew Brees and LaDainian Tomlinson, who split the award in 2006, as well as Peyton Manning in 2005 and Warrick Dunn in 2004.
Payton himself won the award in 1977.
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