The NFL, always searching for a way to extend their brand and fan base, decided to have an awards night the day before the Super Bowl. They call it the NFL Honors program, and it resembles the Oscars more than it does anything that has to do with football.
Throughout the evening the NFL gives out hardware for numerous awards. The big awards are the MVP, Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year and Coach of the Year. Then there are awards like the Walter Peyton Man of the Year award and several others.
While most won’t look beyond the above awards when looking at who won what, if the NFL wants to legitimize these awards, and not just make up awards for sponsorship sake, they might want to think about the voting process.
The biggest issue would have to be with the USAA Salute to Service award. This award is given to the player or coach who does the most for the country’s military, both veterans and active members.
The finalists for the award were Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn and Pittsburgh Steelers tackle Alejandro Villanueva. Well, I think DeAngelo Williams put it best on Twitter after the award was given to Quinn...
So can anyone tell me how this guy on the right serves 3 tours of duty in Afghanistan but does NOT win this award?! #confused # pic.twitter.com/zIBb1Zb9Bf— DeAngelo Williams (@DeAngeloRB) February 5, 2017
Yeah, the man who actually served our country for three tours in Afghanistan, won medals of honor and continues to support those who are still serving doesn’t win the award?
Now, I know many will read this and see a Steelers follower not happy with a player of the black and gold winning the award, but how can the NFL, or whomever selected this award, not choose a player who actually served in the military?
It is what it is, but the NFL missed a golden opportunity to honor a man who put his life on the line multiple times and returned to the states and resurrected his football career not as a tight end, where he played at West Point, but as an offensive tackle.
But the criticism doesn’t stop there.
When the NFL decide to have a “Comeback Player of the Year” award, there are several worthy players who could have received the award. Green Bay Packers wide receiver Jordy Nelson left with the award, and after his season coming off a torn ACL you can make a legitimate case for him to win the award.
Then this happened...
Comeback Player of the Year votes: (I would have rolled with Wake)— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) February 5, 2017
Le'Veon Bell: 1
Nelson had a solid season coming off knee surgery, Cameron Wake re-gained his form after tearing an Achilles tendon, and Dennis Pitta’s career was almost over with hip problems.
However, none of these players had the type of impact on their team like Le’Veon Bell, who also missed nearly half of the 2015 season with a knee injury which required surgery as well. Bell helped carry the Steelers to the AFC Championship game, setting records along the way in both the regular and postseasons.
And he received one vote.
I realize these awards mean nothing, but if the NFL wants to be taken serious, which is a difficult task these days, then they might want to do some serious thinking about just how they go about getting the results to these sponsorship awards.
In the meantime, the NFL will be criticized from top to bottom, and they won’t care, or change anything, because the ratings and cash flow continue to be tremendous.