PFT Heroes 2009: The Ozzie Newsome Award

VernonDavis.jpgDuring his playing career, Ozzie Newsome became one of the best tight
ends in NFL history; he’s one of only seven tight ends enshrined in the
Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Since his career ended, Newsome has become
one of the best personnel guys in the business, winning a Super Bowl as
the V.P. of player personnel in Baltimore and thereafter becoming the
league’s first African-American General Manager.  It seems like he’s
been around forever, but he’s still only 53.

This year’s winner is a guy who played his college football not far from the team Newsome runs.  Vernon Davis of the 49ers, a former Maryland Terrapin, avoided the bust label by breaking out in his fourth NFL season, with a career high in receptions (78), yards (965), and touchdowns (13).

That Baker’s Dozen of six-pointers tied an NFL record, and that was more than enough to put him above and beyond the rest of the field of finalists — Jason Witten of the Cowboys, Dallas Clark of the Colts, Visanthe Shiancoe of the Vikings, and Jeremy Shockey of the Saints.

We also owe an apology to Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, who had a great year and should have been one of the finalists.  But Davis is the guy, with or without Gates in the pool of finalists.

34 responses to “PFT Heroes 2009: The Ozzie Newsome Award

  1. Vernon Davis should get the award for not only his on field performance, but for cutting off his hideous dread locks.
    His hairline started at his coronal suture!
    Fred Davis will win it next year.
    PS: Have any of you seen Vernon’s paintings? Dude’s got talent.

  2. What about Brent Celek for honorable metion? 76 catches for 971 yards and paydirt 8 times. Davis is deserving but Celek and Gonzalez belong in there with honorable mention.

  3. I’m fine with Vernon Davis winning but Antonio Gates is the best TE in the league and it isn’t even close.

  4. Why was Witten even on that list, for his receiving yards? Tony Gonzalez and Brent Celek each had better 2009 campaigns than Witten.

  5. Gates or Clark should have won. Gates has about the same amout of catches but almost 200 more yards. Clark had like 150 more yards on 22 more catches. Both Clark and Gates were more consistant game by game then Davis and both had other players on there teams to take TDs away but still finished with 8 for Gates and 10 for Clark. Now Davis had a terrific year and his QB play was suspect, but I just couldn’t give it to him based on his TDs like PFT did. At times he was force feed the ball, and to his credit made a ton of plays.

  6. Hey Florio (a.k.a. The Perez Hilton of Football),
    You forgot to mention that the Redskins signed Albert “The Baconator” Haynesworth to a contract shortly after midnight on the first day of free agency.
    You’re slipping man.
    Your Friendly Neighborhood Redskins Fan

  7. Heres how I would rank the TEs in the league (not just counting last year).
    1. Tony Gonzo
    2. Antonio Gates
    3. Vernon Davis
    4. Dallas Clark
    5. Jason Witten
    If we are talking about who is the best TE right now, there is no question its Davis. Besides his record numbers this season, he is by far, anyone who has seen them all would agree, no doubt about it, the best blocking TE of the bunch. Gonzo is one of my favorite players of all time and I will throw a tantrum if he doesn’t get into the HOF in his first try, but he is not what he used to be. Gates, while still good, isn’t great any more. He has disappeared a few times this season. When he has everything going for him, he is still uncoverable, but thats not all the time anymore. Besides being the best blocker, and able to catch passes by Shuan Hill and Alex Smith, he is still one of the fastest and strongest players in the league (thank you HGH). In conclusion, Vernon Davis will probably be the best going forward, and will replace Gonzo as the “unquestioned best” at his position.
    I hope no one gets excited over my HGH comment, 1st of all I love Vernon Davis, he is probably my favorite player right now. And 2nd I am pretty sure that every single player in the NFL (or at least the ones who have been injured, or hurt, or sore) have used HGH. That is why they should NEVER test for it. Look at baseball.

  8. Ok gates and Clark may have had better numbers and Ben more consistent but u guys are retarded because look at who’s throwig them the ball and look at the trash Vernon Davis had tossing him the rock. U guys are so quick to bash florio why don’t u think about the facts before u wanna make idiodic statements cuz last time I checked, I don’t think any of u get paid to be sportswriters

  9. Witten and Shockey had absolutely no business being finalists this year over Gates. If we are counting the past, then maybe. But in that case, let’s throw Ben Coates’ name in the mix. That guy was an unstoppable beast in Madden 98.

  10. this class sucks, I totally agree…
    Except there are a few more young guys who might be creeping into that top 5 in the years to come like –
    Fred Davis
    Brandon Pettigrew
    Brent Celek
    Jermichael Finley

  11. You idiots are trashing Jason Witten when he led all TEs in receptions and yardage? Why, was he on your fantasy team and you’re upset about the lack of TDs? Or are you just an average, run of the mill Cowboy hater who won’t give any Cowboy player credit regardless of facts?

  12. It’s nice to throw the kid a bone but true football fans know that he’s not quite there yet. These geeks got it right when they did their research and tabbed Gates as the clear favorite. There’s more to being the best than being open in the end zone.

  13. This class sucks- Your rankings don’t count last year. How is Davis on your list then. Didn’t he get benched in 08?
    Cameltoecleavage- I did say his QB play was suspect, so read the whole post. Alex Smith wasn’t terrible, not great but solid. Clearly I would rather have Manning and Rivers then Smith.
    Davis had 9 games of 51 yards or less, of those 5 were 34 yards or less. 3 of those games was 20 yards or less. 5 tds came in two games both loses(not Davis fault) but clearly he wasn’t a consistant weapon. Again he is one of the best in the league just not the best, atleast not yet.
    Honorable mention should have also gone to B.Celek.

  14. For my money Gates is the TE I want on the field with a game/drive on the line. Vernon Davis is a very good player, but he isn’t Antonio Gates quality…yet.

  15. toe-to-toe bird law says:
    March 2, 2010 4:40 PM
    “2009 Regular Season Stats(facts)
    Dallas Clark- 100
    Jason Witten- 94
    Receiving Yards:
    Dallas Clark- 1106
    Jason Witten- 1030”
    My mistake. I was only viewing NFC list and not full league. Corrected: Witten led his conference in receptions and yards, was second in the league in receptions, and third in yardage. My point still stands. It is ridiculous to call him “garbage” or to say he has “absolutely no business” being a finalist here, as other commenters have written.

  16. @Sasquach,
    In ’08 Vernon was benched in/for the 2nd half of the Seattle game but I don’t believe he was ever benched for multiple games. Just that afternoon.

  17. Vernon Davis is a great talent and the 49ers finally kept an OC long enough to figure it out.
    Shockey and Shiancoe are decent but not elite. Shockey missed a lot of time and was hobbled a lot this year so why was he considered?

  18. Vernon is the man, get over it Vox…Witten is falling off, his 6 catches for 47 yards and no TD per game isn’t cutting it anymore lmao…he’s become a check down man in your offense, deal with it

  19. Just to be clear, the award under debate is “best TE this year.” If any doubts that it is Vernon they are morons and should just be ignored. Second, sasquash, had you read my post you would have read that I said not just counting last year, but just to humor you lets forget about last year. Vernon Davis is without question from anybody who has watched a decent amount of football, the best blocking TE in the game and has been for awhile. Catching passes is only half the position.

  20. While Clark and Gates are great, I dont think many people realize how bad davis’ qb play is. The guy is always open, at least until smith tips his hand that he’s going to throw, and while his hands can be suspect, he is the most gifted TE in the league who can’t be covered. Just too strong and fast. If he actually gets a top 15-20 qb to throw to him, hell post gates numbers.

  21. Vox- VD=Crisco fingers?? Yeah I guess that is what his 14 TDs came from, crisco. Stop sucking up Witten so you can actually watch Vernon play hopefully that’ll keep your mouth shut

  22. This class sucks- I will admitt I don’t see many 49ers games, so I can’t speak on his blocking all that well. I do agree it is often over looked, and even by me in this case. That being said I still wouldn’t take him as the number 1 TE yet. He clearly has a ton of talent as a receiving and as you say blocking TE, I just couldn’t give him top billing yet. I will make it a point in the future when I do watch 49er games to pay closer attention to Davis blocking.

  23. .East Bay Ray says Why are people bashing Witten when he led in receptions and yards.
    5 other tight ends were with in 100 receiving yards (give or take) of Witten but they all had 6 or more touchdowns then him.
    Also yes Witten had 94 receptions but when a guy has alot more receptions then their competion but alot less tds and around only 100 more yards it doesnt make them look good. It means his competition is doing alot more with alot less. It means hes taking away receptions from his teammates that could do better with the ball.
    East Bay if you want to throw out stats theses are the ones that mean the most. Your average yards per catch and how many receptions it takes before you score a touch down. Out of the top 8 tightends Witten was the worst(by alot it took 31 more catches then the next worst) at how many receptions it took before he scored and 6th at yards per catch. How does that make him the best?
    All it tells me is Romo needs to start to throwing to Miles Austin and Roy”1st 3rd n 5th” Williams alot more. And yes Witten was on my fantasy team and he was horrible.
    14.6 yards per catch- 9.875 rec per td
    12.8 yards per catch 9.5 rec. per td
    12.4 yards per catch 6 rec. per td
    11.9 yards per catch 16 rec. per td
    11.1 yards per catch 1o rec. per td
    11.00 yards per catch 47 rec. per td
    10.4 yards per catch 13.833 rec. per td
    10.1 yards per catch 5.09 rec per td

  24. The best TE last year was Vernon, if we all accept that, then the next question is who is the best TE? If you think Gates, Clark, Witten, and Gonzo will do better next year then they did last year then they are all in the argument, but if you are like me and think that they have all peaked statistically then you must remove them from the argument. Then the next question is; will any young TEs next year, Celek, Shanico, ect, do better last year than they did this year. The answer is yes they probably will. Then the last question is will those young TEs improve to the point where they are better than Vernon Davis. That is tough to say, its possible of course but it would take a big year because a lot of these guys are in good situations (celek with McNabb) and so I don’t see what will change. This is all assuming that Vernon does not improve, which he probably will a little, just from playing with the same QB for more than half a season. In closing, I think Vernon Davis is the best TE going forward, but some of those older guys could still have a heck of a year, and some of the younger guys could have a break out season and make a debate out of this.
    Its tough really grading TEs because the stats only tell half the story, and its tough to really gauge blocking unless you are looking for it. Its kind of fun though to watch a player block, it actually can be some what entertaining, although lets be honest, we all like seeing touchdowns lol

  25. “East Bay if you want to throw out stats theses are the ones that mean the most. Your average yards per catch and how many receptions it takes before you score a touch down.”
    That doesn’t mean much. Some teams pass more near the goal line than others. The 0-3gles are a prime example.
    “All it tells me is Romo needs to start to throwing to Miles Austin and Roy”1st 3rd n 5th” Williams alot more.”
    Why? It’s hard to argue with the results. They won the division pretty convincingly doing it the way that they did it. Austin and Williams combined for 18 TDs and over 1900 yards and you think they need a lot MORE? You’re not going to find many WR tandems in the NFL that did better in both areas. If any. Moss and Welker didn’t. They had the yards but only 17 TDs. Jackson and Maclin had the yards but only 13 TDs. Boldin and Fitzgerald only 17 TDs. Keep in mind that neither Austin nor Williams started all 16 games.
    A simple basic fact of NFL life is that there’s not a linebacker in the NFL that can cover Jason Witten one-on-one. He’s not the only TE you can say that about, but you can count them on maybe three fingers. Witten, Clark and Gates. Defenses must use a safety or a combination of linebacker and safety deep in an attempt to contain him or it will be a leisurely game of catch between two best buddies all game long on the way to yet another glorious Cowboys victory. He plays huge in opening things up for the WRs. Do you wonder why Austin usually got single coverage? It’s because a defense would rather take a chance on letting Miles Austin loose, a guy that MIGHT beat you, rather than Jason Witten, a guy that WILL beat you like a government mule if you don’t make him a focus of every pass play.
    “All it tells me is Romo needs to start to throwing to Miles Austin and Roy”1st 3rd n 5th” Williams alot more. And yes Witten was on my fantasy team and he was horrible.”
    There’s your problem. You’re basing your opinion on fantasy football where you don’t get points for drawing double coverage or crushing a blitzing linebacker. Geek. The Magic the Gathering twerps are laughing at you and are about to shove you into a locker because they’re smart enough to know that their game doesn’t accurately reflect the way that things are.

  26. @Vox
    You make a good point with how a TE’s stats will change based on the offense. Look at Mike Martz system, he doesn’t throw to TEs, does that mean they are bad? Of course not, just that its a different system. This proves my point even more of how important it is that the TE be a good blocker. Sometimes TEs will get shut down (usually when a team commits more than one guy to him) and when this happens you have to be able to punish the team for it by either running the ball, or getting it to your other WRs.
    As far as the Witten debate goes, I (and I hate the Cowboys) think Witten is a very good TE. My only problem with him is he tends to give up on routs from time to time and is a non factor in run blocking near the end of games. But even considering that he still gets him self open, and gets guys around him open. Another thing he has going against him is Romo. Romo can make himself look stupid by depending too much on Witten, and Witten is often taken out of the game because the other team knows that Romo will go there a lot. If you put Witten on the 49ers lets say, he would probably have more TDs. But I would still say Davis is better because of his blocking ability, and of course the TDs don’t hurt either.

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