Over the past handful of years, change is the NFL has typically been perceived as negative to the fan base. However, tomorrow night will mark the second annual NFL Honors, a football-centered award show mixing celebrities with players and putting the NFL at the focus of primetime television for the entire weekend. It’s been a welcome breath of fresh air to the way awards are announced.
During last season’s inaugural NFL Honors, Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs was announced as the Defensive Player of the Year. With Suggs and the rest of his teammates playing in this weekend’s Super Bowl, the Ravens have more important hardware and awards to focus on.
Overall, 16 awards will be presented Saturday evening (CBS, 9PM EST) and the Ravens find themselves with limited nominations. In total, three players and coach John Harbaugh are up for an award.
Play of the Year
Both running back Ray Rice and kick returner/wide receiver Jacoby Jones are nominated in this category.
Rice’s famous 4th-and-29 conversion – dubbed “Hey diddle diddle Ray Rice up the middle” – is expected to win out of the 20 total plays nominated.
Jones’ 108-yard kickoff return against the Dallas Cowboys was also nominated. It also is the only special teams touchdown nominated.
GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year
Wide receiver Torrey Smith is one of five players nominated for their impressive moments during the 2012 season.
Smith played with a heavy heart in Week 3 in a 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots as his brother Tevin was killed in a motorcycle accident late the previous evening. In the middle of the night, Smith left the team hotel to grieve with his family in Virginia. He then returned to play in the game later that evening even though head coach John Harbaugh left the decision up to Smith as to if he wanted to play or not.
Not even 24 hours after his brother’s passing, Smith led the Ravens with 127 yards receiving and two pivotal touchdowns.
Smith’s nomination is the most meaningful and courageous of all the nominees, who had no other back story apart from playing well during the game.
Other Nominees: Drew Brees sets new consecutive games touchdown record in the Saints’ first win of the season, Peyton Manning leads a comeback from 24-point deficit to win 35-24, Victor Cruz has a 77-yard touchdown late in 4th quarter to beat the Redskins, and Kurt Cousins leads the Redskins to an overtime victory over Ravens after coming off the bench.
Salute to Service presented by USAA
The following award recognizes those within the NFL who demonstrate an outstanding commitment to the military community.
Head coach John Harbaugh is nominated for the award.
With 22 other nominees, Harbaugh has plenty of competition, but he may have a leg up after already being recognized earlier in the year by the United States Army. Harbaugh won the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award for his continuous support of soldiers and those within the military.
Military members including Wounded Warriors are often guests of Harbaugh and the Ravens around the Under Armour Performance Center. Win or lose, Harbaugh has done plenty to be proud of for those serving our country.