Matt Leinart Wins Award; Calm Down, Cards Fans -- Honor Has Little to Do With Football

The Arizona Cardinals' performance-plagued B-squad quarterback Matt Leinart won an award today, and it wasn't for most under-thrown receivers, or clipboard-holder of the year. Despite his follies on the field, it turns out Leinart's a bit of a philanthropist.

Leinart was named the Arizona Cardinals/Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year this afternoon, an award designated for the player on each NFL team who exemplifies "off-the-field community service as well his playing excellence."

While we would argue that there is nothing excellent about the way Matt Leinart's played this year or last year or any year since he was drafted, his off-the-field record is more than admirable.

In 2006, Leinart started the Matt Leinart Foundation, which helps underpriviledged kids in the Phoenix area through sports, activities, and all the familiar "don't-join-a-gang" methodologies.

Through the foundation, Leinart has pledged $500,000 to the Cardon Children's Hospital in Phoenix, where the children's cancer unit is named after him.

The do-gooding doesn't end there

For every Cards home game, Leinart brings 16 kids from underprivileged families in Phoenix to University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale to watch.

Leinart is also an ambassador for the American Red Cross and the United Way. He is the national spokesman for the Children's Eye Foundation, as well as founder of the Urban Youth Football League in Los Angeles, which gives kids who can't afford to play in pricey leagues like Pop Warner or Jr. All-American, a chance to play.

With all this humanitarianism, you might be wondering when does Leinart find the time to practice? After watching him throw a pair of interceptions last week, so are we.

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James King
Contact: James King