PFT Heroes 2009: The Pat Tillman Award


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.

30 responses to “PFT Heroes 2009: The Pat Tillman Award

  1. Since his death was accompanied by so many lies, half-truths and BS, shouldn’t it be called the VoxScumbagitas Award?

  2. I don’t know that any player merits a “Pat Tillman Award” in the larger sense, but if you insist on going there, I’m glad you chose Dawkins. The Eagles were fools, and how nice for him to give Leone those tickets. Classy guy.
    And yes, “Can you feel that?” still causes tingles.

  3. 9 Interceptions on the season, Superbowl Champion… Almost twice as many INTS over a shorter career than Dawkins. Sharper was the obvious choice.
    Honestly, do you really want your Safety making that many tackles? I would rather D-Line or Linebackers making tackles, If your Safety is making that many tackles, you’re losing games… Oh, never mind, I forgot he played on the 8-8 Broncos.
    Not one of the other guys listed is even on the INT list. And Sharper led the league, AS A SAFETY, tied w/ Woodson a Corner.
    Once again PFT Staff, Your Delusion knows no bounds.

  4. I have utterly despised the Eagles since I was 14 years old (so for MANY years 🙂 ) but I love Dawk. Seriously. Anyone who wouldn’t want this guy on their team is nuts.

  5. if you compare dawkins and sharper side by side, dawkins wins in a landslide. he led a defense that was top 5 in the league this entire decade. he’s right up there with ed reed and troy polamalu.

  6. great choice, best safety the nfl has seen since ronnie lott and a first ballot hall of famer if there ever was such a thing

  7. LOVE LOVE LOVE how is he no longer an Eagle. That just kills their fans! bahhahahahahahahahahahahahaha!

  8. @DAS
    I think they are taking more into account than just stats for this season or career. That is apparent when you see that Mike Furrey’s name is mentioned. I do agree, though, that Sharper had a far better season then all of those mentioned.
    One thing I would argue though that it is ok for a team’s safeties to make tackles. It shows that they are playmakers in more ways than just interceptions. Just to point out that the Saint’s 2nd leading tackler was your other Safety Roman Harper with 102 tackles followed by Sharper. They were not a bad team like you said most teams with safeties making tackles were.

  9. # Steve-O says: February 20, 2010 11:51 AM
    Since his death was accompanied by so many lies, half-truths and BS, shouldn’t it be called the VoxScumbagitas Award?
    That’s brutal……and true.

  10. The Eagles did not “give up on him”. They made him a generous contract offer. Denver made him one of the highest paid safeties in the league, which is insane given his coverage ability at the moment.

  11. As a loyal American who optimistically imagines a world in which everything works right, I feel it might be worth noting that Tillman’s death was from “friendly fire.” An American shot him.
    Or as Florio calls it, the “biggest” sacrifice. Great. Biggest. My heart soars.

  12. Maybe they should name it the “Eagle Poop” award since it was less than a year ago that the 0-3gles dumped Dawkins, prompting every 0-3gle fan to take a dump right on his head by telling everybody how overrated he was.

  13. “The Eagles did not “give up on him”. They made him a generous contract offer.”
    Revisionist history. The 0-3gles don’t offer “generous” contracts to anybody but bad free agents and company men like McNabb.

  14. Voxy Moron,
    Don’t live up to your name. There are such things as first ballot HOFers. Rice and Emmitt? What do you mean? If there are such things? Cripes.

  15. Dawkins was the best thing to happen to my Broncos this last year. He’s still great.
    It’s just a major bonus that he is also great off the field.

  16. i’m not an eagles fan, but dawkins is a great player and a class act,…to give him the pat tillman award, he’s certainly as deserving as, if not more so than anyone in football,…the eagles could’nt justify keeping him, but they could justify signing micheal vick,…no wonder they haven’t won a championship since 1960

  17. Thats why the Eagles lost in the wildcard round for the first time in Andy Reid’s tenure with the team.
    They didnt have Dawkins their to get the team ready for the game or to pick them up once things started going in the wrong direction.
    He deserves this award and Im happy he got it.
    Vox your an idiot maybe a few Eagles fans said Dawkins is overrated but for the most part Eagles fans wanted him to stay in Philly and believe he is better now then any Cowboys safety in the history of the team.

  18. I take everything back I said about Broncos getting ignored. I’m glad to see this.
    Dawk was still not only one of the top safeties in the game, he was a leader, a gentleman, and a menace to opposing O’s. The Broncs may have finished 8-8, but the D went from bottom of the barrel to #7 overall, and it is in no small part because of BDawk. He’s got the smarts of a vet his age and the passion of a man half of it. Thanks PFT. Good call.

  19. “Vox your an idiot maybe a few Eagles fans said Dawkins is overrated but for the most part Eagles fans wanted him to stay in Philly and believe he is better now then any Cowboys safety in the history of the team.”
    haha yeah ok, whatever you say. I’ll console myself Cliff Harris and Darren Woodson and their five Super Bowl rings. With all these “better than the best Cowboys” you guys have you’d think that you’d have something in the trophy case by now.
    But you don’t, do you?

  20. Cowboys fans only wish they could have had a first-ballot Hall of Famer on their team the past 10 years.
    Nobody on the Cowboys roster even comes close to the type of player Dawkins was, and is.

  21. Sharper was better. The ONLY thing Dawkins did better was make more tackles (I wonder how many of these tackles were made because Dawkins was late in stopping the pass — notice Sharper has several more passes defended). But I’d much rather have a safety that is producing turnovers than making tackles that should’ve been made by the LBs. Dawkins is a wonderful person and player, but Sharper was better.
    For a group of people that gave Jared Allen an award largely based on his dominance of Green Bay’s 3rd-string LT and the inherent boost to his stats due to those 2 games, to then not give an award to a guy who put up the best numbers from the safety position is laughable.
    But I’m sure Sharper is okay with his consolation prize, a Super Bowl victory. Funny how no Saint was good enough to merit a single individual award yet they had the #1 ranked offense and won the Super Bowl with the best record in football.

  22. Inserting a photo of someone deeply involved in the cover-up of the murder of two people into a story about Pat Tillman initially seems to be a disgusting lack of intellect. But, in actuality becomes clearly appropriate when considering how Pat Tillman himself died.

  23. Vox, you idiot, very few Eagles fans called him overrated. They agree that his coverage ability was getting worse, but that’s it. Almost every Eagles fan wanted him back and were sincerely upset when they let their best safety in team history and one of hte best leaders of all time walk. I don’t know where you come up with this studd

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