- Josh Weinfuss, ESPN Staff Writer
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On it was an inscription from the Hall of Famer: "Jay, life and athletics require a total effort for success." Payton even signed it.
He's followed Payton's words pretty closely throughout this career and on Thursday, Feely was named the Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. He's one of 32 team recipients who'll be in the running for the league-wide award presented at the Super Bowl this year in New York/New Jersey.
Cardinals President Michael Bidwill announced Feely as the recipient after Thursday's practice.
"Jay does a lot of great work in the community, not only here in the valley but back in Michigan, in Florida, he's even done it internationally in Haiti," Bidwill said.
Feely won the award for his charity work around Arizona, especially at the Phoenix Ronald McDonald House and the Phoenix Rescue Mission, but as well as for his trips to Haiti with his family and his church to help rebuild the country after the 2010 earthquake. He's made three trips to Haiti, the most recent during the last season.
Throughout the last three years, he's worked with the Feely Family Foundation, Mission of Hope and President Bill Clinton to build homes for those still displaced all these years later. The initial plan, Feely said, was to build 2,000 homes. The three groups joined forces to build 6,000.
While Feely's volunteering benefitted Haitians, it also gave him and his family a new perspective on life.
"When you go down there and you see kids everywhere without families, people without homes, it gives you a different perspective," Feely said. "And that's why I (decided) to bring my family down there, my two oldest kids down there, for them to see it and be a part of it. It was special to see them work and to appreciate food and a roof over your head."