"I'm incredibly honored to be named the Eagles' Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year alongside an inspiring group of men who are making a difference in their communities," said Johnson. "I've been fortunate to spend my entire career playing for an organization and city that has embraced me at my best, but more importantly, supported me and helped me through some of my darkest moments. Playing this game has always been a passion of mine, but being able to share my mental health journey through the platform football has given me has been a rewarding experience. I'm grateful to have had a strong support system, and my hope is to support others who are suffering in silence by opening doors for them to feel comfortable enough sharing their stories."
Off the field, Lane has shown dedication and commitment to mental health advocacy. Initially diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in 2008, it wasn't until 2021 that Johnson finally opened up about his mental health after unexpectedly missing three games due to anxiety and depression. He has since used his experience to advocate for mental health awareness and treatment. From leading his first speaking engagement in 2022 for the Jewish Federation of Atlantic and Cape May Counties in South Jersey, where he spoke to more than 80 people, to now partnering with Kooth, a free and confidential mental health service for Philadelphia youth, Lane has proven himself as a role model in the community. As a Kooth ambassador, Johnson raises awareness for the program, which ensures youth who are underserved, or afraid to talk about their mental health, are aware of accessible resources available to them. This year, Johnson has made an effort to localize his advocacy in the community, leading several talks on mental health, acceptance, and his treatment journey.
One of the things that has helped Lane persevere through his own mental health struggles is being of service to others. During the 2023 season, Lane has honored his heroes by hosting Gold Star families and Silver Star recipients through his Gold Star Family initiative. These visits provide a unique experience to exchange stories and help each other overcome adversity.
"Lane Johnson has been a vital part of this team and community for the past 11 years," said Jeffrey Lurie, Philadelphia Eagles Chairman and CEO. "His accomplishments on the field speak for themselves, but the work he is doing off the field is changing lives. His passion and vulnerability as a mental health advocate serve as an inspiration to so many. Not only was Lane strong enough to seek the help needed to tackle his own battles, but he's now using his experiences and platform to help others going through similar situations. That courage and resiliency speak volumes to the type of person Lane is. His strength and leadership, both on and off the field, are just a few examples of why he is so deserving of this recognition."
Since the establishment of the award in 1970, the Eagles have had three players earn the prestigious Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award (2018 – Chris Long; 2002 – Troy Vincent; 1980 – Harold Carmichael).