Category Archives: Awards

Dobre Shunka Awards 1943-2017

Meaning Good Ham, and named in honor of the tight end erasing phenom Jack Ham, the Dobre Shunka Award is reserved for the league’s top outside linebacker in a given season. Outside linebacker is an especially tricky position to evaluate for an award, because of the huge difference in responsibilities for off-ball linebackers and those who play at the line of scrimmage. When major publications hand out postseason awards, and when fans vote for the Pro Bowl, they seem to overwhelmingly favor 3-4 pass rushers…

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Enforcer Awards 1943-2017

The Enforcer, vicious middle linebacker Dick Butkus, inspires the title of this award, which goes to the best inside linebacker in a given season. In general, I prefer linebackers who are strong in coverage, but I do love a classic thumper who blows up blockers and devastates ball carriers at the point of attack. It is also important for the man in the middle to be able to call the shots for the defense, but that can be hard to tell on tape and doesn’t…

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Mean Awards 1945-2017

The Mean Award, named for legendary tough guy and fulcrum around which the Steel Curtain defense revolved, is given annually to the league’s standout defensive tackle. With defensive ends, I have an unabashed preference for pass rushers. For tackles, on the other hand, I prefer a more well-rounded repertoire of skills. This is especially true for linemen who played prior to about 2004, when the value of passing increased from its already high level. While I look at the same stats that I looked at…

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Deacon Awards 1943-2017

Named in honor of the feared pass rusher who coined the term “quarterback sack,” Deacon Jones, the Deacon Award goes to the finest defensive end in the league each season. I don’t see any reason to overcomplicate this award. I want a defensive end who can make life hard on quarterbacks, and if he can play the run well, that’s an added bonus. Obviously, I’d prefer someone who can do both, but if I only get one, the choice is a simple one. Sacks are…

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Iron Awards 1946-2017

Named in honor of the legendary Iron Mike Webster, the Iron Award goes to the league’s top center each season. The best centers will excel at protecting against an interior push in the pass rush, often make difficult run blocks from awkward angles, adeptly move to the second level and engage more athletic linebackers, and, usually, make line calls as the maestro of his unit. From what I have seen, there appears to be much year over year continuity in performance at the position, and…

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Hog Awards 1946-2017

The Hog Award, named for the big Hog John Hannah, is given annually to the top offensive guard in the land. I tend to give roughly equal consideration to both pass protection and push in the run game, though I do give a bit of a preference to run blocking for older players. I try to take the context of linemates into account, as I believe it can be easier for a guard to excel if his center and tackle are quality players. A running…

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Guardian Awards 1946-2017

Named in honor of Jim Parker, the behemoth who protected Johnny Unitas from doom, the Guardian Award honors the top offensive tackle in the league each season.1 Because passing is what really wins games, I put far more emphasis on pass protection than I put on run blocking. If a guy is an atrocious run blocker, then he probably won’t win an award, but a stellar pass blocker who is just okay in the ground game is far more valuable than a big mauler who…

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Gonzo Awards 1960-2017

Named after modern legend Tony Gonzalez, the Gonzo Award is given annually to the league’s top tight end. The position itself doesn’t go back as far as other fantasy positions, and I decided not to give any awards prior to 1960, when both the NFL and the AFL rostered a sufficient number of players fitting the position’s description to merit having the Gonzo Award. Today, the most important tight ends are receivers first, and blocking ability is just an added bonus. In the incipient stages…

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Bambi Awards 1920-2017

The Bambi Award, named for graceful dynamo Lance Alworth, is given to the league’s premier wide receiver each season.1 Like the quarterback and running back awards previously published, the Bambi Award leans heavily on statistical output in determining the winner. In general, I look at yardage and scoring, emphasize first downs gained when available, and give a tiny little head nod toward receptions (because catches in and of themselves don’t mean all that much to me). I also take into account the passing volume of…

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Motley Awards 1920-2017

Named in honor of dominating fullback Marion Motley, the Motley Award is given to the league’s top fullback each year. When bestowing this award, I emphasize blocking prowess, but I make plenty of exceptions for versatility. Although fullbacks are technically “skill position” players (as though one can succeed at left tackle or cornerback through sheer tyranny of will), I am not nearly as concerned about their statistical production as I am with that of the other offensive glory hogs.  If the goal is to showcase…

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