It is time once again to honor our favorite Training Camp Hero. That's right BTSC Nation, it's time for that annual Labor Day Weekend tradition - vote for the 2017 winner of the Isaac Redman Award.
Isaac Redman - A Training Camp Hero is Born
It was 2009, a time when the Steeler offense had lost its way. The running game was more spin than run, and Steeler Nation was pining for a return to the days of Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis. Into training camp that year, like the Pale Rider on his Pale Horse, walked Isaac Redman, an unknown, undrafted running back from unheard-of Bowie State University. Redman quickly made himself a fan favorite with his blue-collar, smash-mouth, no-excuses, stick-it-where-the-sun-don't-shine straight-ahead style of running the football between the tackles. He was rapidly elevated to the status of Training Camp Hero for his 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust running heroics in practice and meaningless pre-season games against second and third stringers. Despite the protestations of Steeler Nation and a massive write-in campaign to keep him on the 53-man roster, he missed the cut that year and ended up on the practice squad.
Perseverance and Legend
Not to be deterred, our Hero persevered and made the 53-man roster in 2010. Having acquired the nickname "Red Zone", Isaac Redman matriculated from Training Camp Hero to Legend on the cold night of December 5, 2010. In a neck-and-neck playoff race that year, the game against the hated Ravens on this night would decide who would win the AFCN division title and have home field advantage for the upcoming playoffs. Our Hero scored a late 4th-quarter 9-yard touchdown to give the Steelers the lead and the victory that day. But he ascended to the status of Legend, not because he scored, but because of HOW he scored. Isaac Redman caught the ball at the 7 yard line, picked up the entire Raven entire linebacking corps on his back at the five, took their lunch money at the three, gave Ray Lewis a wedgie at the one, and then crossed the goal line, all while keeping both hands on the football and utterly destroying the feeble Ravens in the process. And so a Legend was born.
In honor of our Hero, BTSC has for some time now been electing an annual Training Camp Hero and awarding him the Isaac Redman Award. The Isaac Redman Award is unofficially given each year to the unheralded Steelers player who came from the furthest reaches of obscurity to reach general heightened fame and appeal among Steelers fans. The general criteria for consideration, taken from Neal Coolong's 2014 post on the topic, are as follows:
- Player must not be a draft pick higher than the sixth round
- Player can only have participated in two other training camps prior to this one
- Player demonstrated frequent references in comments regarding the likelihood of significant playing time in the coming year
- Weight of general fan sentiment is the player is a "diamond in the rough"
- Player does not have to make the team in the year of his nomination to qualify (this isn't meant to be included in 53-man roster discussion)
- Terrell Watson: If there is anyone on the roster this year who could actually BE Isaac Redman, it's Terrell Watson. With a relatively limited skill set, he is a one-cut, straight-ahead power running back literally in the mold of Isaac Redman, who does this one thing and does it well, and has endeared himself to Steeler Nation for exactly that. He literally destroyed the Panthers' third-team defense last night to make a case for himself ahead of the unloved Knile Davis, and we will see shortly whether he was successful or not.
- Mike Hilton: "All he does is make plays", said Mike Tomlin. Hilton came out of nowhere (well Mississippi, actually) to insert himself into the conversation for a spot on the CB depth chart as the slot corner this year (or at least, for the spot reserved for a short cornerback from Mississippi, usurping the role previously occupied by Senquez Golson). At a time when Steeler Nation is pining for a cornerback who can make plays, Hilton has all the attributes and talent to qualify for the Redman Award.
- Colin Holba: I have to hand it to this guy - Holba just about won this award on the day he was drafted back in April. How could you not be a Training Camp Hero when you are a 6th round pick as a long snapper? This guy is so good at long-snapping the football that the Pentagon is considering deploying him to Guam as part of a brand new missile defense system. Now THAT is talent, folks.