THE FLATS - Georgia Tech football alumnus Michael Johnson is one of 32 nominees for the 2017 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, the National Football League has announced.
Johnson, a ninth-year pro for the Cincinnati Bengals, starred at Georgia Tech as a defensive end from 2005-08.
The Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award annually recognizes the player that best combines off-field community service and on-field excellence.
Since he was selected by the Bengals in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, Johnson has supported less-fortunate children in Cincinnati, Atlanta and his hometown of Selma, Ala. through his MJ93-90 Fund. The mission of the of the MJ93-90 Fund is to educate kids on the importance of capitalizing on their talents and abilities with educational and technological programs, to increase their awareness of proper nutrition and exercise for healthier bodies to avoid obesity, diabetes and heart disease, and to mentor and encourage them on how to be successful.
Most recently, Johnson started a program encouraging local youth and the Cincinnati Police Department to strengthen their relationship by strengthening their understanding of one another. This year's program includes a community service component where the kids and officers volunteer together.
Johnson played in 49 games as a defensive end at Georgia Tech from 2005-08. Despite not breaking into the starting lineup until his senior season, he ranks ninth in school history with 19 career sacks and is tied for 17th in the program's all-time annals with 30.5 career tackles for loss. He also forced 10 fumbles and blocked three field goals during his four seasons as a Yellow Jacket. He was named first-team all-America after racking up nine sacks and 17.5 tackles for loss as a senior in 2008.
Johnson, who was 10 classes shy of graduating when he completed his collegiate playing career, returned to Tech in the 2011, 2013 and 2015 offseasons and earned his bachelor's degree in business administration in 2015.
He has played in 136 games during his nine-season NFL career (eight seasons with the Bengals -- 2009-13, 2015-pres.; one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- 2014), recording 349 tackles (250 solo), 42 sacks and 31 passes defended (including three interceptions).
Each NFL team nominates a player for the Man of the Year Award, which has been presented since 1970 and was named for legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter Payton in 1999. The winner will be announced during the annual NFL Honors awards show on Feb. 3.