Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vinny Rey has played 823 defensive snaps this year, which is nearly double the 467 he had in his first four seasons combined.
But despite the increased workload on Sundays, Rey has maintained an equally busy schedule on his Tuesdays off by volunteering anytime and anywhere he’s asked.
“I wouldn’t say I’ve done something every Tuesday, but whenever I get a chance, I try to go and do something and be involved,” Rey said Tuesday afternoon prior to heading to a Cincinnati orphanage to try to spread some Christmas cheer.
“It’s Christmas time, and being in an orphanage can be a sad time,” he said. “I do my part in the community, and the reason I do is I feel it’s important to give back. I’ve been given so much growing up, just role models from my father to teachers to coaches, and I just want to reciprocate that and do the same thing.”
Rey’s dedication to volunteer work earned him his second consecutive Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nomination, which was announced Tuesday.
One player from each of the 32 teams in the league is nominated and receives a $1,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to award to the charity of their choice.
Three finalists will be announced next month, and the winner will be presented during the NFL Honors awards show Jan. 31, the night before Super Bowl XLIX.
“That’s a huge nomination,” Rey said. “I’m humbled by that, and I’m grateful.”
The team leader with 103 tackles, Rey has made 11 starts this year, including the last nine, due to injuries to Rey Maualuga and Vontaze Burfict.
He said the charity work he has enjoyed the most has come from his involvement with the Aruna Project.
“In the red light district in Mumbai, India, there’s a lot of sex trafficking there,” Rey said. “There’s something called the Aruna 5k where in different cities around the country, people pay and then you run and that money goes to helping those women out there. I really saw how the women are being helped, and it touched me. So I did a little video for it. I mean, I won’t be running the 5k, but I’ll be there and be sponsoring it.
The 5k race will be held April 18, and Rey’s fiancée Noelle is helping the fund-raising cause as well.
“The money is going to help pay for women who are being rescued,” he said. “They’re being rescued and then they’re being given jobs. One of the things is they make backpacks. And one of the reasons women get involved in that stuff is they don’t have any other way to get money. So for them to make backpacks and get sustainable income, that’s huge for them. I’m glad to be a part of that.”