The irony of naming an award for the late Pat Tillman is that he really wouldn’t care that the award is named for him.
He didn’t play football for fame, and he didn’t quit the game for notoriety. He did what he did with no deeper meaning or agenda, and he was not motivated by the things that motivate most of the rest of us.
He played football because he loved the game. He stopped because he felt that he had a duty to make a sacrifice in honor of those whose sacrifices allowed him to play football.
He ultimately made the biggest sacrifice.
This year’s version of the Pat Tillman Award goes to Brian Dawkins of the Broncos, who proved at age 36 that he can still play at a very high level — a season after the Eagles gave up on him.
The entire PFT staff picked Dawkins, who started every game, made 116 tackles, and started in the Pro Bowl, from a group of finalists that included Saints safety Darren Sharper, Ravens safety Ed Reed, and Browns safety/receiver Mike Furrey.
Dawkins was voted his team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner for 2009, and he hooked up Dan Leone with two tickets to Dawkins’ December return to Philly. (Leone, as you may recall, was fired from a game-day gig at Lincoln Financial Field after criticizing the Eagles via Facebook for letting Dawkins sign elsewhere.)
Even Rosenthal, whom we accuse at times of being a Saints homer (when he’s not acting like a Patriots homer), picked Dawkins — suggesting that Sharper is “overrated.”
Besides, we still get goose bumps whenever we hear Dawkins say to his Eagles teammates, “Can you feel that?” in the Madden 08 intro.