Schrager: Alternative NFL Awards

FOXSport.com's Peter Schrager hands out a wide variety of alternative NFL awards for unique accomplishments at the midpoint of the NFL season.

At the midway point of the NFL's regular season, it's time to do what we do best -- give out awards. Let's dig right in.

The Mark Messier Award: For the bold prediction that may some how, some way, turn out coming true.

Winner: Jon Kitna: When Kitna predicted that the Lions would win 10 games in 2007 back in March -- and then again in June -- the talking heads on the "Scream your face off over nothing" cable TV sports shows had an absolute field day. They weren't alone. The general consensus was that Ktina was either just tying to motivate his younger teammates or that he had gone absolutely bat crazy. Well, eight weeks in the Lions are 5-2 and Kitna's got them halfway there. The defense, which gave up 56 points in Week 3, is starting to gel, and Mike Martz has his offense getting production from all over. Through it all, Kitna's been the one constant. Bat crazy? Not quite. Just confident in his team's ability.

The Jeff George Award: For the player that publicly questioned a coach's decision.

Winner: T.J. Houshmandzadeh: Who would have ever thought that the most quote-worthy receiver following Sunday's loss to the Steelers would be Housh? Down 14-3, facing a 4th-and-1 just inside the Steelers 2, head coach Marvin Lewis sent his offense out to apparently go for a touchdown score. Seconds later, Carson Palmer called a timeout, the field goal team shuffled on to the field, and kicker Shayne Graham booted through a 20-yard field goal. The record crowd of 66,188 booed as one and the Steelers put the game away minutes later with a Willie Parker touchdown before the half. Houshmandzadeh, frustrated after the game, told reporters, "It's like telling a kid he can have some candy and then saying, 'Um, not right now. ... That's why they're 5-2 and we're 2-5. Good teams put it in the end zone. Teams like us kick field goals." The difference between Houshmandzadeh's comments and any of the million that Chad Johnson's made over the course of this season? When T.J. speaks, people actually listen and care.

The Katie Couric Award: For the much-publicized addition to a studio pregame show that hasn't done much for ratings.

Winner: Tiki Barber: For all the great debate over which network pre-game show Barber would join after his retirement, he's been absolutely mediocre as a talking head this season. Sure, he ruffled Eli's feathers a bit early in the year, but other than that have you ever once noticed his presence on that uber-crowded NBC pre-game show? The Giants -- 6-2 and getting production out of Brandon Jacobs, Reuben Droughns and Derrick Ward at running back -- seem to be fine without him in both their lineup and locker room, while NBC doesn't seem any better off with him chuckling next to Cris Collinsworth. Tiki's become a master of waving a pen at the screen adamantly and saying nothing of worth. Perhaps it's the show's crowded set-up that's holding him back from unbridled success. Whatever the reason, he's been no better or worse than Sterling Sharpe. And probably making a lot more money.


Derek Anderson
Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

The Billy Volek Award: For the unknown backup quarterback who has taken the NFL (and fantasy leagues) by storm.

Winner: Derek Anderson: Few people remember this, but Anderson was once a few missed extra points away from manning one of the greatest college football upsets of the decade. Back in 2003, Anderson took his unranked Oregon State Beavers into Baton Rouge and nearly knocked off the defending national champion LSU Tigers on their home turf in the opening game of the season. Kicker Alexis Serna -- who has since gone on to win a Lou Groza award -- missed a few extra points, and LSU escaped with a last-second victory. There's been no escaping Anderson this season. He's been downright awesome. Just why Charlie Frye was given the nod over him for Week 1's disaster in Pittsburgh, we may never know. But since that game, Cleveland's 4-2 and right in the thick of the playoff chase. Anderson's as responsible for that as anyone. If Pro Bowl ballots were to be collected today, it'd be hard leaving the kid off the AFC squad. Next to Manning and Brady, that's some pretty good company.

The Ernest Givens "Electric Slide" Award: For the most underrated touchdown celebration of the year.

Winner: Plaxico Burress: Call me a sucker for simplicity, but I'm a huge fan of Plax's simple bow to the crowd. As for the SouljaBoy dance that everyone and their mother is doing in both the college and pro game, I'm well over it. I saw a grandfather doing it with the kids at a Bar Mitzvah a few weekends ago. That tells me all I need to know.

The Gus Johnson Award: For, well, the Gus Johnson Call of the Year.

Winner: "Losman to Evansssssss!" Everyone's favorite play-by-play man nearly broke television speakers across the greater New York area during Sunday's Bills-Jets game. His call of Lee Evans' miraculous 85-yard fourth quarter touchdown score was an all-time Gus call. It's gotta go right up there with the Adam Morrison-UCLA one and the Jamal Crawford game-winning shot one. If anyone can get the clip, send along -- we'll include it in next week's column.

The Shawn Kemp Award I:  For the player who showed up to camp 25 pounds overweight and still has a strong season.

Winner: LenDale White: There was some great trepidation this summer over the Titans running game. Travis Henry, a 1,200 yard rusher from a year ago was now in Denver, Chris Brown had a history of injuries and Chris Henry, the team's second-round draft pick, never started in college at Arizona. Oh, and that LenDale White guy? Well, he showed up to camp looking like a balloon. So what have the Titans running backs done eight weeks into the season? Just combine for 282 yards on the Jaguars' second-ranked defense, score the third-most rushing touchdowns in the NFL and average the third-most rushing yards per game. Who's been the main guy? Mr. White -- all 245 pounds of him. The second-year back has 513 yards and four touchdowns so far.

The Shawn Kemp Award II: For the player who's had many, many children with many, many different women.

Winner: Travis Henry: It was revealed in early September that Henry -- the starting running back for the Broncos -- has fathered nine children with nine different women. Add that to a pending marijuana investigation, and it's been quite a season for the former Tennessee Volunteer. Maybe the Titans knew what they were doing when they let him sign with the Broncos without much fuss.

The Paris Hilton Award: For the most fascinating poor-quality video of the year:

Winner: Jay Glazer: His grab of the Joey Porter-Levi Jones "fight" in Vegas is the latest. Just how our guy Glazer gets his hands on stuff like this and the SpyGate footage is really one of the great wonders of the world. Perhaps it's because he doesn't spend his entire week doing 10 TV spots a day and appearing on 80 different Fox-affiliated radio stations. Or, maybe he's just darn good at his job. Either way, getting this footage was pretty impressive.

And hey, what the heck -- how about some real ones, too:

NFL MVP: Tom Brady, New England
In the conversation: Peyton Manning, Tony Romo, Brett Favre

NFL Defensive Player of the Year: Bob Sanders, Indianapolis
In the conversation: Keith Bullock, Mike Peterson, Jarred Allen

NFL Coach of the Year: Rod Marinelli, Detroit
In the conversation: Wade Phillips, Mike McCarthy, Bill Belichick

NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota
In the conversation: No one else.

NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year: Jon Beason, Carolina
In the conversation: Patrick Willis, Aaron Ross, Tanard Jackson

NFL Comeback Player of the Year: Randy Moss, New England
In the conversation: Amani Toomer, Ben Roethlisberger, Kurt Warner

Peter Schrager is a frequent contributor to FoxSports.com.


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