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NFL Honors: The Brownies – 2012 Edition

By DARYL RUITER, 92.3 The Fan Browns Beat Reporter
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Graphic by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland

Graphic by Daryl Ruiter CBS Cleveland

DarylRuiter_300 Daryl Ruiter
Cleveland Browns beat writer and member of the Pro Football Writers of...
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CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Saturday evening the NFL will unveil it’s 2012 award winners during the 2nd annual ‘NFL Honors’ show.

Browns Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas is a finalist for the ‘Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award’ which will be announced in New Orleans.

It’s not quite the Grammys, Oscars or Golden Globes but in the spirit of Saturday night’s 2-hour prime time special which will air on CBS (shameless plug), Sports Radio 92.3 The Fan presents: The Brownies – 2012 edition.

And The Brownies go to….

Best Touchdown Celebration: Trent Richardson

Richardson flipped into the end zone to cap a 32-yard touchdown run at Cincinnati in week 2 – it was his first NFL score. He followed the flip up with a salute, something that he would go on to do 11 more times in 2012.

Best Supporting Player: Alex Smith

Smith replaced Owen Marecic at fullback for the final 9 weeks of the season and did a solid job blocking for Richardson, who would often just run by Marecic before he could make a block. Smith also caught 13 passes for 47 yards.

Mr. Congeniality: D’Qwell Jackson

It’s no surprise why Jackson was a team captain again this past season. He was a true professional while leading the Browns on and off the field. Jackson started all 16 games and led the team with 119 tackles to go with 7 passes defensed, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries and 2 interceptions. The heart and soul of the defense always made himself available to the media and answered every question with thought and consideration – even when asked to answer the same one over and over. His candor and class earned him the 2012 Dino Lucarelli Good Guy award presented by the local chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America.

Courage Award: Scott Fujita

Fujita found himself embroiled in the middle of the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal last March. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell accused Fujita, who played for the Saints between 2006-2009 before signing with the Browns, of participating in a ‘pay to injure’ scheme run by former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and suspended him for 4 games. Fujita maintained his innocence from day 1 and after 6 months of appeals, hearings and court proceedings Fujita’s good name was finally cleared of any wrong doing. Fujita, who served on the executive committee of the players association, has championed the importance of player safety throughout his career. His philanthropic efforts center around helping former Saints teammate Steve Gleason, who was diagnosed with ALS which is considered a terminal neuro-muscular disease.

Most Popular Player: Phil Dawson

Dawson is the Cleveland Browns. The lone remaining member of the 1999 expansion team has endured a lot of changes and losses in his time in Cleveland but after 14 years, Dawson was finally selected to the Pro Bowl thanks in part to a late surge in fan voting. Dawson’s contract came up following the 2010 season, which he thought would be his swan song, but the team used the franchise tag on him for 2011 and again in 2012. Dawson has said repeatedly how overwhelmed he’s been with the outpouring of fan support that he’s received over the last 2 seasons. If it was Dawson’s final season in Cleveland he sure went out in style by making all 7 field goals attempted from beyond 50 yards. He has the best FG percentage (84%), made the most FGs (305), is 2nd in points scored (1,271) and 3rd on the all time games played list (215) in franchise history.

Class Clown Award: Billy Winn

On the field, Winn is a mean machine in the middle of the defensive line but among his teammates the rookie from Boise State was fun and charismatic. Winn always helped to keep the locker room loose with jokes, pranks and laughter. He wasn’t shy while being interviewed by reporters nor was he afraid to jump in on the middle of player interviews to ask deep, profound and probing questions of his teammates while cameras and recorders rolled – even at the most inappropriate times.

Best Soundtrack: Frostee Rucker

Following in his father’s tune spinning footsteps, Rucker brought his A-game daily while serving as the team’s DJ and jukebox. He keept the music mix fresh and unpredictable in the locker room. Rap, R&B, rock, pop, motown and even some country – you name it Rucker spun it.

Quote of the Year: Phil Taylor

When asked on Dec. 12 what the key to slowing down Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, Taylor fired off this beauty – “Fire off the ball and whoop the o-line’s ass.”

Rookie Most Likely to Succeed: Trent Richardson

Richardson broke Jim Brown’s franchise rookie records by rushing for 950 yards and 11 touchdowns in 15 games but was never 100 percent during the season. He missed the entire preseason recovering from a 2nd arthroscopic knee surgery in 6 months, then played 9 games with 2 broken ribs after sustaining the injury against the Bengals in week 6. He still managed to run for 610 yards 7 touchdowns while playing in a tremendous amount of pain. Richardson will fit beautifully into new offensive coordinator Norv Turner’s offense considering that Turner has helped to produce the NFL’s leading rusher 5 times throughout his coaching career.

Coach of the Year: George Warhop

The offensive line was the most stable unit during the 2012 season anchored by 6-time pro bowl left tackle Joe Thomas. After losing left guard Jason Pinkston, who was placed on injured reserve on Oct. 22 with blood clots in his lungs, John Greco filled in for the remainder of the year seamlessly in his absence. The line gave up 3 fewer sacks in 2012 and rookie Brandon Weeden had plenty of time to throw the ball. Warhop was among the few coaches who were retained by new head coach Rob Chudzinski.

Rookie of the Year: Josh Gordon

Many questioned just how fast Gordon, who hadn’t played in a game since Dec. 2010, could actually contribute after being selected in the supplemental draft on July 12 – a mere 2.5 weeks before training camp. There were character questions as well after he failed multiple drug tests in college which prompted him to sit out the 2011 season after transferring to Utah from Baylor. He joined Kevin Johnson (1999), Webster Slaughter (1986) and Eric Metcalf (1989) as the only rookies in team history to catch a pass in all 16 games. He started 13 of them. Gordon caught 50 passes (4th among NFL rookies) for 805 yards (3rd among NFL rookies) and 5 touchdowns including scores of 33, 44, 62 and 71 yards.

Most Valuable Player: Joe Haden

Haden’s presence on the field made the most difference in the win/loss column of any player in 2012. The Browns went 0-4 while he served a 4-game suspension for violating the leagues policy on performance enhancing substances. He missed a 5th game – an overtime loss at Dallas – with an oblique injury. In the 5 games that Haden missed the Browns gave up an average of 29.0 points per game. When he was on the field they allowed an average of 20.27 points per game and the Browns went 5-6. Without question, had he played the entire season the Browns would’ve finished better than 5-11 and could’ve easily finished the season at 8-8. He registered 51 tackles, 3 interceptions, broke up 10 passes and forced a fumble in 2012.

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