(Photo courtesy of the Arizona Cardinals)
Talk of Fame Network
It may be a new year, but we still have some old business to resolve. So let's get started.
What we want to do here is acknowledge the best and brightest of 2014 . And to honor them we'll place their names and achievements in a time capsule and stash it ... and them ... away in the Pro Football Hall of Fame so that, 50 years from now, people will know who and what made 2014 significant.
So what if you don't want to wait? No problem. Just keep reading.
Ron Borges – Houston DE J.J. Watt. If defense wins championships – and it does – he’s the most valuable. Texans aren’t 9-7 without him. They’re down and out.
Rick Gosselin – Dallas RB DeMarco Murray. The commitment to the run and Murray’s legs were the difference between a Cowboys team that was 8-8 in 2013 and one that shared the NFL’s best record one year later.
Clark Judge—Dallas RB DeMarco Murray. He single-handedly changed the personality of this team and lifted the pressure from Tony Romo. Result: Dallas wins a division. Who says running backs don’t matter?
COACH OF THE YEAR
Ron Borges – Arizona’s Bruce Arians. Miracle worker wins with QBs who aren’t even QBs.
Rick Gosselin – Arizona’s Bruce Arians. Did more with less than any coach in the NFL. He started three different quarterbacks, lost his best running back, punter, his best defensive tackle (Darnell Dockett) and played almost the entire season without his best pass rusher (John Abraham).
Clark Judge – Arizona’s Bruce Arians. When they remake “The Miracle Worker,” camera crews will be sent to the Cardinal’s HQ.
ROOKIE MOST LIKELY TO WIN UP IN CANTON
Ron Borges – New York’s Giants WR Odell Beckham, Jr. He had a Hall-of-Fame season in 12 games.
Rick Gosselin – Dallas G Zack Martin. Martin was the only new addition up front, and in the span of one year the Cowboys went from 24th in rushing to second.
Clark Judge – Dallas G Zack Martin. Murray didn’t do it alone. The Cowboys’ offensive line was magnificent, with Martin a legit candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ron Borges – J.J. Watt. The guy had five TDs and threw in 20 sacks for the second straight season.
Rick Gosselin – J.J. Watt. If the NFL recognized an MOP – Most Outstanding Player – it would be Watt. But the award is called MVP – Most Valuable Player – so it’s Murray.
Clark Judge – J.J. Watt. We'd all be a lot better off if he'd been nominated to replace Chuck Hagel in Washington.
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ron Borges – DeMarco Murray. Not only is he the league’s best runner; he led the league rushing despite carrying the Cowboys on his back.
Rick Gosselin – DeMarco Murray. Murray won the NFL rushing title by almost 500 yards.
Clark Judge – DeMarco Murray. Finally, Big D stands for something.
MOST MEMORABLE GAME
Ron Borges – The next one. That’s the beauty of the NFL. No matter what just happened you can’t wait for the next weekend.
Rick Gosselin – Dallas’ 30-23 defeat of Seattle. Cowboys go into Seattle and control the ball for 38 minutes to hand the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks their only home loss this season and second home defeat in the last 26 starts.
Clark Judge – Dallas’ 38-27 defeat of Philadelphia. After blowing a 21-point lead, the Cowboys and Tony Romo proved Denny Green wrong: They’re not who we thought they were!
WHAT MADE 2014 MEMORABLE
Ron Borges – Manelik Watson. The Raiders’ young offensive tackle was so moved by a 4-year-old girl named Ava Urrera, who was born with half a heart, that when she and her family visited the Raiders’ facility several weeks ago he walked over and handed her father a game check to ensure she have a great Christmas. Watson earns $36,944 each week for 17 weeks, so he’s far from the highest-paid player on the team. But without anyone watching, he just reached out to help a family he had never met. If that’s memorable about 2014, what is?
Rick Gosselin – The NFC South. The race was there for the taking, and no one wanted it.
Clark Judge – Odell Beckham, Jr. The more I watched the more I believed. No, his leaping, one-handed stab vs. Dallas wasn’t the greatest catch ever invented … but it was close.