ORCHARD PARK, NY (WKBW) — Harrison Phillips is a "community guy" and his work is being recognized. The third-year Bills defensive tackle has been nominated by the Buffalo Bills for the 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. The award recognizes an NFL player from each team that not only excels on the field, but is involved in community service activities off of the field.
"It's definitely a huge blessing. I'm very thankful and very appreciative, especially on a team that has so many guys with high character that do things in the community as well," Phillips said. "It's a privilege to represent the Bills and one of, if not the most, distinguished honors I've received in my life."
Phillips has been involved with several organizations in years past, most notably his Playmakers Organization, which supports children with intellectual disabilities. He also was a part of an initiative to provide Wi-Fi to students at Buffalo Public Schools and donated $10,000 toward meals to healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's almost like medicine to me," Phillips said about his community service. "There were so many hard things I've had to go through and still am. But being able to give back and serving the community and working with some of the kids I get to work with, wipes away the pain and gives you great perspective on things that are really going outside of there."
Harrison will receive up to $40,000 toward a charity of his choice, and if he's chosen as winner among all other nominees, will receive $250,000.
"A lot of what I have is because of football and makes me believe my identity is I'm a football player. Doing the work I do, being a servant, donating my time and resources to these kids, it helps shift your identity outside of that," Phillips said. "Being a good person and giving back helps so that when football's not going great or ends, that transitions us out of football and into the real world. It's a little bit easier because your identity is rooted into something else."