Hopefully the nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game between the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions will be a stage in which the world finally notices the exceptional play of Charles Woodson. For a guy that was "finished" in the league as he grinded out this time with the Raiders, we have seen a resurgence from the 12th-year veteran. I hope the Associated Press takes note.
In my opinion, there are 3 top contenders for the honor: Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings, Darren Sharper of the New Orleans Saints, and Charles Woodson of the Green Bay Packers. Allen and Sharper get more attention because the teams they play on are at the top of their divisions and are locks to see the post-season. Does that make them more deserving? I think not and I hope the Associated Press takes both on-the-field as well as off-the-field actions into account.
Jared Allen is a monster to be feared by opposing quarterbacks. No doubt about it. He has 10.5 sacks through Week 11 and is a game-changer. Darren Sharper keeps offensive coordinators up at night devising ways to keep the ball away from him. It hardly works and that's evident in his 7 picks with 3 returned for TDs. Both of these guys are exceptional and are deserving of the honor of being named Defensive Player of the Year...but Charles Woodson edges them both out so far.
From a purely statistical standpoint, Woodson has been an all-around better player.
|Player||Total Tackles||Sacks||Interceptions||TDs||Forced Fumbles|
*As of 11/28/2009
To be completely fair, 7.5 of Allen's sacks (4.5 sacks in Week 4 and 3 sacks in Week 8) were courtesy of a horrible Green Bay offensive line that provided a red carpet and directions all the way to Aaron Rodgers. Stats are stats and I don't want to take anything away from Jared Allen, but he didn't have to work very hard for those sacks.
Darren Sharper, a former Packer that I sorely wish we would have kept in town, is showing his resurgence in New Orleans. The Saints have one of the most high-powered offenses in NFL history and Sharper brings veteran leadership to the other side of the ball. His 3 TDs are nothing short of remarkable. He's an eagle circling the secondary just waiting to swoop down and snatch a pass.
Both Allen and Sharper have great numbers, but Woodson has better overall numbers. He matches Sharper's 7 picks (only 2 scores) but he surpasses both men in tackles and forced fumbles. His game play on Thanksgiving was a defensive trifecta. He had a sack, a fumble, and 2 interceptions. He also managed to recover his own fumble and took one of those interceptions back for a score. Did I mention that he did all this while covering Megatron and holding him to 2 receptions for 10 yards?
The great thing about statistics is that they don't live in a vacuum. Anyone can argue for or against stats as I've done. What about the stats that you don't see? What about the intangibles? What about the number of lives touched by each of these men? What about the number of lives yet to be touched by these men?
All 3 men are well known for the time that they give to their communities. Each is a role model that gives tirelessly for multiple causes. Darren Sharper helps improve the quality of life for disadvantaged children through the Sharper Kids Foundation. Jared Allen serves as an advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Charles Woodson went just a little bit further however. He not only puts in his time, but he put his money to work as well when he donated $2 million to the new C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at the University of Michigan (see video below). This is the kind of gift that will keep on giving and speaks volumes about the man's character. The money will not go into the general funds, but rather it will support "groundbreaking pediatric research". It's difficult to quantify the number of lives that will be impacted by this and it's impossible to calculate the return. All of those tackles and interceptions have paid off.
It's for all of these reasons and more that Charles Woodson deserves to be named the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year.
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