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The finalists for the Derrick Thomas Award

With Lions defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh winning the 2010 version of the Alan Page Award, it’s time to move on to the next level of the defense.

The Derrick Thomas Award goes to the top linebacker of the year.

The finalists are Packers linebacker Clay Matthews, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, Steelers linebacker James Harrison, Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware, Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake,and Vikings linebacker E.J. Henderson.

Please feel free to complain in the comments about the omission of any of the various other linebackers whose names don’t appear on the list.  After casting your vote for the winner.

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43 Responses to “The finalists for the Derrick Thomas Award”
  1. southie905 says: Feb 11, 2011 9:19 PM

    No Tamba Hali?

  2. igottz5onit says: Feb 11, 2011 9:20 PM

    Bah no doubt woodley or harrison is better than matthews. It like ben taking credit for a sb win.

  3. rudy112 says: Feb 11, 2011 9:34 PM

    gotta give it to Harrison, he’s a monster!!

  4. dudeustupid says: Feb 11, 2011 9:42 PM

    uhm where’s tamba?

  5. Rex Grossman says: Feb 11, 2011 9:42 PM

    Brian Urlacher was selected to the Pro Bowl and received two NFL Defensive MVP Award votes. I’m not arguing or suggesting. The omission of Urlacher is flat out dumb. Put him on there for your own sake. I mean get real.

  6. scudbot says: Feb 11, 2011 9:44 PM

    Harrison? Didn’t he go missing on 2/6?

  7. bowens3181 says: Feb 11, 2011 9:49 PM

    I voted for Matthews, and I would have voted for him anyway, but I fail to see how Tamba Hali, or tackle leader Jerod Mayo aren’t even candidates considering the seasons they had.

  8. ninjapleazee says: Feb 11, 2011 10:00 PM

    in the games I’ve seen Matthews play… not a Packers fan but Clay Matthews is a beast

  9. rustshack says: Feb 11, 2011 10:02 PM

    How the **** is Hali not on there? For one, he is a Chief, for two, hes a sack artist like Thomas, and for three, he would have easily lead the NFL in sacks if half the holds on him were called. I swear I have never seen a player held so much as I did this year on Hali… and he still managed to get pressure on a lot of them.

  10. jw731 says: Feb 11, 2011 10:03 PM

    Oh just give the damn award to James (don’t call me Jimmy) Harrison…..The Stillers fans who if James came within a mile of their house, would file a restraining order would be pissed if ya didn’t…and then whine like girls for 8 minths…

  11. metalhead65 says: Feb 11, 2011 10:12 PM

    linebacker of the year award and no Brian Urlacher on it?after the year he had after being out last year and people writing him off including the staff at pft? realy?guess that means I won’t vote then.

  12. deepbacksidedig says: Feb 11, 2011 10:38 PM


  13. Deb says: Feb 11, 2011 10:41 PM

    @jw731 …

    I find James Harrison to be an intelligent, deep thinker with a brilliant deadpan sense of humor. If he came to my house, I’d enjoy discussing labor and other league issues with him because he has a more thoughtful take than the average player. Then again, though I’m caucasian, my friends and my neighborhood are multi-cultural, so I don’t freak out and file restraining orders when I see black people. 🙄

    Yes, I voted for James because he’s an extraordinary linebacker who had a fabulous year. But I have tremendous respect for Clay Matthews and congratulate him for leading in the vote.

    Mostly, Mike, I appreciate that you’ve named your award for the great and still greatly missed Derrick Thomas. RIP Derrick. Roll Tide!

  14. tonymission says: Feb 11, 2011 10:52 PM

    People actually voted for EJ Henderson?

    Or is that just Contra and Pervy at the public library?

  15. johntonioholmes says: Feb 11, 2011 11:03 PM

    Matthews and Harrison are probably the most dominant on this list. Harrison proved that he is immovable, helping that rush defense to number 3 in NFL history.

    Matthews is like a faster, but not as strong version of Harrison, by which I mean he is just unstoppable and unblockable.

  16. aliowlsfalcons19 says: Feb 11, 2011 11:04 PM

    No Tamba Hali?


    tamba is more considered a defensive end n demarcus ware really? i didnt even know he existed this season :s. ej henderson i dont understand neither…curtis lofton shud of been nominated instead, so underrated!

    the award shud go to wake, coming from the cfl to being amongst the leaders in sacks gets my vote

  17. roman1mock1battle says: Feb 11, 2011 11:04 PM

    I must agree with southie905 . How in the world was Tamba Hali left off this poll? It’s not just this site, either. The guy is an absolute monster, and nobody really seems to care. Did you see him against Baltimore? Or Oakland in week 17?

    Take a look at some film. This man is every bit the force that Clay Matthews is, minus the great supporting cast and media worship. Nobody can stop him without holding him, and for some reason, they get away with it so incredibly much.

    That’s coming from a Packer fan. We have no reason to give anyone else props at this point. 🙂

  18. rustshack says: Feb 11, 2011 11:24 PM

    Do some of you guys even know who Derrick Thomas is? Urlacher is nothing like him.

  19. jw731 says: Feb 11, 2011 11:27 PM

    @ deb…..
    An intelligent deep thinker with a brilliant deadpan humor..who you would enjoy talking labor issues with..So let me get this right, somehow you have concluded that the linebacker for your favorite team is a combination of Da Vinci, Johnnie Carson, and Che Guevera…..And everyone wonders why boy bands prosper….

  20. jw731 says: Feb 12, 2011 12:02 AM

    so Deb,…what you are saying is, it’s OK that Thomas had seven children from 5 different mothers, all of whom he basically ignored, but as long as he has an award and the Roll Tide credo is an ample statement, all is fine… tell me Deb, who misses him more, you or his kids he ignored?

  21. tedskro says: Feb 12, 2011 12:11 AM

    Umm is this an award for rush ends or linebackers as a whole. There are some notable ILB’s missing if thats the case. Make two awards if you take the sack statistic so highly, but the best linebacker should be able to do everything not just one thing really well.

  22. shavodog1 says: Feb 12, 2011 3:36 AM

    all of these guys are worthy but shouldn’t this award go to the one who is also the best in the community as well???

  23. mrnumbe says: Feb 12, 2011 3:46 AM


    I’ll second that.

    Cameron Wake is a beast. Coming out of the CFL and doing so good. Give the man some credit and an award! Oh.. And perhaps a new god damn contract?

  24. pioliforprez says: Feb 12, 2011 3:49 AM

    agreed, Tamba definitely deserves to be at least mentioned

  25. sufferingbirdsfan says: Feb 12, 2011 9:29 AM

    Like him or not, it’s obviously Matthews.

  26. Wisconsin77 says: Feb 12, 2011 9:35 AM

    This is a joke, is there even any question?

  27. dietrich43 says: Feb 12, 2011 9:47 AM

    Be nice to see another 4-3 LB or three in that list. Ware, Wake, Matthews, Suggs, and Harrison are all pass rushers.

  28. chubrock50 says: Feb 12, 2011 10:01 AM

    Mathews is damn good but the only statistic he has is the sacks. His tackles are terrible, he only had I believe 1 pick, and 1 ff. LBs are supposed to do a lot more than just rush the passer.

  29. chubrock50 says: Feb 12, 2011 10:06 AM

    Yes they are all pass rushers except for Henderson. I’m a Viking fan but there is no reason for him to be on the list. Greenway had ended the year with 149 tackles, he should be there way before Henderson. Henderson’s biggest triumph this year was coming back so quick from a devastating shattered femur injury, and injury where most would have never come back as quick. The 3-4 LBs are great but as I said before there is so much more to being a LB than just rushing the passer.

  30. dabears54 says: Feb 12, 2011 11:45 AM

    I completely agree that Urlacher does not play Derrick Thomas-style football, however neither does E.J. Henderson, and it’s absolutely laughable to say that Henderson had a better season than Urlacher… Shouldn’t the “best linebacker” award go to someone who does more than rush the quarterback every single play? How about some love for the 4-3 defense.

  31. Bubby Brister says: Feb 12, 2011 12:11 PM

    Harrison had 40 more tackles, 4 more FFs, 1 more INTs and only 3 less sacks than a guy who got almost half of his sacks in his first 2 games and the other guy is the no-brainer answer? 4 sacks in 3 games to 3.5 in 4 during the playoffs. Harrison had a sack in the Super Bowl and Clay forced a fumble… and they were both otherwise non-existent.

    All aboard the Sportscenter hype train.

  32. chowderhead12 says: Feb 12, 2011 12:12 PM

    no jared mayo on there….. just another joke award that the nfl has like mike vick for come back player thats the biggest slap in the face to all true nfl fans. he came back from nothing now wes welker thats a come back story or curtis coming back from cancer thats a story not a dirt bag that is a medeoker player. vick is not a hof not ever going to the big game and never gonna get the respect from players or coaches. now with that said the dolphins suck

  33. *Legion* says: Feb 12, 2011 2:21 PM

    So apparently PFT has never heard of linebackers that play anything other than the 3-4 edge rusher spot. Just as big of a joke as the Pro Bowl.

  34. vanredstar says: Feb 12, 2011 2:35 PM

    Ware but no Patrick Willis?

    If you’re going to incl linebackers from disappointing teams, Patty W should be in there 100x over Demarcus Ware.


  35. malgorthewarrior says: Feb 12, 2011 5:19 PM

    no tamba, no urlacher. suggs? really? ej henderson?

    are you all even trying on this?

  36. beardedbearsbacker says: Feb 12, 2011 6:08 PM

    Voted for Henderson, he’s the only actual linebacker on this list. The other guys spend the whole game rushing the QB, and are really just glorified defensive ends. Great players, but definitely shouldn’t win an award named for Derrick Thomas.

  37. beardedbearsbacker says: Feb 12, 2011 6:12 PM

    Then again, maybe the real problem is that you need to name the award after a different linebacker so people don’t think that sacks are the only thing that LBs are supposed to do.

  38. iavikefan says: Feb 12, 2011 7:37 PM

    Beardedbearsbacker is right… this is about Linebackers, not glorified defensive ends in a 3-4… Clay Matthews was 167th overall in tackles this year. Seriously?

    Plus, none of the rest of these guys that are too small to make the D-line in a 4-3 had their femur sticking out of their leg last December and came back to start every game this year.

  39. Deb says: Feb 12, 2011 9:24 PM

    @jw731 says …

    You said Steelers fans would call the cops and issue a restraining order if they saw James Harrison approaching their homes. Maybe that’s how you think. But I don’t react that way to black men. And yes, through several interviews, I’ve discovered Harrison to be an intelligent, deep thinker, with a brilliant deadpan sense of humor.

    Are you saying that in your world, people can’t be humorous, intelligent, and deep thinkers unless they’re Johnny Carson, DaVinci, or Che Guevara? Or are you saying that only someone simple-minded enough to like boy bands could possibly see humor, intelligence, and thoughtfulness in an African American athlete?

    You made your bigotry clear the first time. It wasn’t necessary to compound it with the second post. Now, unfortunately, through the thumbs up you received we know several people share your moral bankruptcy. How sad for all of you.

    As to your rant about Derrick Thomas, I admired him as a player, as a humanitarian who did a lot for his communities, and for the way he conducted himself on the field. I did not follow his personal life because it was none of my business. His children were at his Hall of Fame induction. They seemed devastated by his loss. It’s difficult to imagine anyone would miss a judgmental ass like you.

  40. lilevil74 says: Feb 12, 2011 10:52 PM

    Lawrence Taylor is arguably the only linebacker better than Derrick Thomas, on the field. But Lawrence wasn’t even a fraction, of a single percent, of the man Derrick was off the field. I don’t know who should win this award as I don’t know the contributions these players make in communities across the country. All of these players are electric for their defenses. I read in a previous post that Clay Matthews only had 1 forced fumble. Was that the “show stopper” forced fumble on Mendenhall? If so, do you need more than 1 when it destroys another teams chance at the only trophy that really matters? And yes, Tamba Hali was held more than anyone in the league this year. Sad ordeal for Chiefs fans. And also the reason he was left off this list.

  41. vacman9100 says: Feb 13, 2011 10:02 PM

    CLAY MATHEWS did have the best year out of the 6.
    sure a few other should be on the list over a couple of them. i would like all 6 to on my favorite roster. would be close to the number one defense for any team that has these 6

  42. dieharddolfan6493 says: Feb 13, 2011 11:27 PM

    chowderhead12 says:
    Feb 12, 2011 12:12 PM
    no jared mayo on there….. just another joke award that the nfl has like mike vick for come back player thats the biggest slap in the face to all true nfl fans. he came back from nothing now wes welker thats a come back story or curtis coming back from cancer thats a story not a dirt bag that is a medeoker player. vick is not a hof not ever going to the big game and never gonna get the respect from players or coaches. now with that said the dolphins suck
    Get over yourself you biased Pats fan. But your right Mayo did have a good season but its not like wes welker got shot in the head and coming back and breaking record he dosnt disserve comeback player of the year mike vick went from prison to back up to runner up for MVP. With that said learn how to spell.

  43. pizzon says: Feb 14, 2011 8:43 AM

    why is Lamar Woodley not on the list? the guy quietly is the best player on this defense who doesnt draw attention to himself he just produces week after week. EJ Henderson lol lol what a joke.

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