INDIANAPOLIS – Today, the Indianapolis Colts announced safety Antoine Bethea as their local "Man of the Year" winner for his commitment to community service and his leadership on and off the field. Bethea was presented with a commemorative plaque and football by Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano during Pagano's weekly press conference.
As the local winner of this award, Bethea will be considered by the NFL for the national Walter Payton Man of the Year, the highest distinction an NFL player can receive for his efforts both on and off the field. The award is named in honor of the late Chicago Bear's running back Walter Payton.
"Antoine embodies everything this team is about. He is a tremendous player and continues to provide veteran leadership in our locker room and in the community," said Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano. "We are thrilled to present Antoine with our Man of the Year award in appreciation for everything he's done, and continues to do, for this team and this community."
Since being drafted by the Colts in 2006, Bethea has made his mark as a football player and a philanthropist. On the field, Bethea has now started 90 consecutive games, which is currently the longest active streak by an NFL safety. He is a two-time Pro Bowl Selection and has topped 100 tackles in each of the last five seasons. This season, he has served as a defensive captain for several games and is the team's second leading tackler.
Off the field, Antoine's statistics are just as impressive. After completing his college degree at Howard University in 2011, he started his Safe Coverage Foundation to provide access and resources for students to achieve their dreams of a higher education. Each year, Bethea hosts a college tour for fifty inner-city high school students from his hometown of Newport News, Va. The tour, which includes visits to George Mason University and Howard University, was created to expose inner-city youth to college campuses and give them the opportunity to meet with faculty.
At each Colts home game, Bethea donates 15 tickets and meal vouchers to underserved youth in Indiana as a part of the team's Community Ticket Block program. He also hosts two free football camps for youth each year – one in Indianapolis through a partnership with the Colts and one in his hometown. Combined, the camps serve more than 400 students annually.
The past two years, Bethea has served as the local spokesperson for United Way's Team NFL initiative. Bethea is one of 32 players around the NFL who have pledged to help United Way recruit new mentors, tutors and readers nationwide. Last year Bethea also started an annual clothing drive with his teammates – at the conclusion of the drive, he and several teammates delivered the clothing to Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis, Ind. and helped serve dinner while visiting with the men served at the shelter.
In addition to his personal efforts, Bethea has supported several of the Colts community programs and initiatives, and those of his teammates, over his eight seasons in the NFL. In 2012, he was selected by his teammates to receive the Ed Block Courage Award, an annual honor given to a player on each NFL team for courageous play.
For more information on the Safe Coverage Foundation, visit www.antoinebethea.com.