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Rethinking NFL Awards

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Football might be the most difficult sport to judge the difference in value between players who play different positions. Yet the NFL awards don't reflect that. The big awards handed out are generic, Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Baseball has a separate award just for pitchers. Hockey has all kinds of awards. College football has special awards for each position. Let's come up with some new hypothetical awards to honor players who otherwise aren't considered for them.

Johnny Unitas Award (Quarterback of the Year)

Since quarterback is the most important position on the field, this is the first spot we should look. Since there would be endless debate about the name of the award if we went with a more modern passer, let's stick with a legend from an early NFL period.

Walter Payton Award (Most Complete Running Back)

Sometimes it will go to the guy who simply dominates on the ground like Adrian Peterson, but naming this award after Payton signifies that we are generally looking for the most complete back who ran, caught, and blocked effectively.

Jerry Rice Award (Most Valuable Pass Catcher)

I don't think many people dispute the best receiver ever. Given today's increasingly nebulous position designations in the NFL, we'll keep this award open to prolific backs and tight ends in the receiving game.

Anthony Munoz Award (Best Blind Side Pass Protector)

The blind side is a big deal. Quarterbacks can at least protect themselves on the other side. This award would open up some fun debates about which pass protectors had the best season. We'd talk about which elite pass rushers they shut down. There are some lefty quarterbacks so we won't just limit this to left tackles.

John Hannah Award (Best Run Blocking Offensive Lineman)

I'm not wild about naming an award after a Patriot, but he deserves it.

Hines Ward Award (Best Blocking Skill Player)

It's dirty work. It doesn't bring glory. It doesn't get recognized. It still helps the team.

Reggie White Award (Best Pass Rusher)

He's the obvious choice for an award based on getting after the quarterback.

John Randle Award (Best Pass Rusher Who Doesn't Play on the Edge)

Since the top pass rushers are almost all edge guys, we'll note the players who get to the quarterback despite having to work in greater traffic. This is for interior linemen as well as linebackers and secondary players who blitz.

Ted Washington Award (Best at Doing the Little Things)

Some defensive players don't fill up the stat sheet but still have a ton of value. They take on blockers and hold the point of attack to give their teammates a clear path to easy tackles. Think Bart Scott's early years with the Jets. This award would go to the most valuable defender who didn't put up big numbers.

Dick Butkus Award (Most Valuable Conventional Linebacker)

This might be an award in college, but Butkus has earned another award named after him. This wouldn't include your pass rushing 3-4 outside linebackers. This is about your sideline to sideline guys who also drop into coverage and take on blockers.

Jack Ham Award (Best Cover Linebacker)

Today's offenses love to move backs and tight ends around to create mismatches. Having a linebacker who can stop them is a valuable commodity.

Deion Sanders Award (Shutdown Cornerback of the Year)

Named after the best pure cover guy ever.

Rod Woodson Award (Most Valuable Secondary Player)

Woodson was a terrific cornerback and safety. Why not name the most valuable player award for the back of the defense after him?

Jack Tatum Award (Best Secondary Player in Run Support)

Like blocking skill players, a corner or safety who can help in run support might not be the most important attribute, but it still can help.

Ronnie Lott Award (Toughest Player)

There are guys who play through serious injuries and still end up contributing to their teams in a big way. This is a way to honor them.

Steve Tasker Award (Most Valuable Special Teamer Who Isn't a Kicker)

Special teams aces don't get many headlines, but they can make a big impact.

Ray Guy Award (Best Punter)

Again, this is identical to a college award, but Guy was the best punter ever.

Mark Moseley (Most Valuable Place Kicker)

This is a monument to the ludicrous 1982 MVP award that went to Moseley, a kicker.

Adam Vinatieri Award (Most Clutch Kicker)

Some kicks are bigger than others. This one honors the guy who delivered in clutch spots.

Sammy Baugh Award (Most Versatile Player)

Some guys do it all. They can line up in multiple spots. They perform different roles. They defend all different types of players. This award is for them.

Bill Parcells Award (Coach Who Most Beat Expectations)

The Coach of the Year Award always seems to go to the coach who beat the preseason predictions by the most. It leaves out some coaches who were expected to have good teams but still did tremendous jobs along the way. With that in mind, we'll have two coaching awards. Parcells surprised a lot of people with his quick turnarounds so he'll be the namesake for the current award.

Bill Walsh Award (Best All-Around Coaching Job)

And this one goes to the best coach no matter how his team was expected to perform before the year. Sometimes a team is good year after year because the coach always does a great job.

Randy Moss Award (Offensive Rookie of the Year)

Lawrence Taylor Award (Defensive Rookie of the Year)

Devin Hester Award (Special Teams Rookie of the Year)

We'll add a rookie of the year category for specialists in addition to the two existing ones. In fact, let's add a fourth.

Wayne Chrebet Award (Undrafted Rookie of the Year)

How about some love for the guys nobody believed in?

Jim Brown Award (Most Valuable Player)

Now that we've covered everybody else, we can have our generic award named after the greatest player ever.