My award nominations for the 2009 season
As we reach that time of the year when everyone in the Bucs UK and on BUCPOWER.COM gets to vote in the nine different award categories, time also therefore for my annual article in which I make my own nominations and the reasons behind them.
OFFENSE and boy weren't the Bucs offensive at times this year? Always good to get the obvious gags out of the way early. Tough here to go offensive line without knowing blocking performances and game grades so it comes down to a skill position. And no-one has posted numbers like Kellen Winslow in 2009. OK so he doesn't do blocking but he does receiving and scoring and many times was the only weapon the Bucs had on offense.
DEFENSE was a Buccaneer trademark for 13 seasons but all good things have to end. And most opposing drives did in the Buc endzone for too much of the season. The secondary played above itself when you consider the lack of pressure up front, but for big splashy plays and the sign of more to come, then a Florida State linebacker gets the nod. Whereas you would have assumed Brooks, now read Geno Hayes.
SPECIAL TEAMS is where Rich Bisaccia deserves an award as the kick return and coverage teams kept coming up trumps in spite of multiple injuries. So with apologies to Sammie Stroughter and Micheal Spurlock who had touchdowns and didn't get the nod, this one has to go to Clifton Smith who is a threat to score each and every time he returns a kick or punt.
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR is one award that can never be won twice and deservedly goes to Josh Freeman. Sammie Stroughter has shown some nice touches and Roy Miller looks like a keeper, but Freeman is going to be the real deal. An off-season working on mechanics will help on his long ball but the second half of 2009 gave every Buc fan hope for the franchise future.
NFL PLAYER OF THE YEAR is an award I always find tough to vote on simply because I don't watch other football outside of the Bucs. So I have to go on media hype and stats and Chris Johnson in Tennessee looks like the new Adrian Peterson.
BUCCANEER OF THE YEAR is a category we have in the Bucs UK for the person who most sums up the spirit of being a Buccaneer and be anyone connected with the team in any form. It is named for Bob Timoney, the late driving force of the Clearwater Bucs boosters. And no-one did more for the Bucs UK this past year than Brian Ford, the VP of Business Administration of the Buccaneers. Wembley would not have been the incredible experience it was for the club in the UK without his efforts.
DICKHEAD OF THE YEAR is now named after Nick Halling of Sky Sports who has received the most all-time votes without ever actually winning the award. And as he is now ineligible, there are so many other wonderful candidates to consider. Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are always contenders as are the sad individuals who post deregotary comments on the Tampa Tribune site after each and every story that is written.
But for simple brazen idiocy, time to honour the UK Patriots club who went out of their way to try and screw up what was a massive publicity event for the NFL in the UK. It is a shame that the sport in the UK has so many idiots who think the NFL owes them a living and that the majority seem to be New England fans (at the moment anyway).
WRITER OF THE YEAR is a chance to give some recognition to the people who bring us our Buccaneer news in various forms. Roy Cummings is the pick of the Tampa reporters and Joe Henderson the best columnist, but both will have to kneel behind the two people I would vote for here. Lee Bromfield contributes a superb Friday column for BUCPOWER which is both informative and hilarious, whilst Denis Crawford's historical articles are a work of pure research genius. I'll chicken out and give half a vote each here.
FAVOURITE BUCCANEER is where we look for the most popular current player of the team (if we did all-time then 1980s defensive back Vito McKeever would just win too easily). And having met the guy and heard first-hand what he has gone through over the years, how can you not love Cadillac? Honorable mention to Earnest Graham because the poor guy has to follow me on JP Peterson's Show on 1010 Sports each Tuesday.
Paul Stewart, TBO.com, January 2010