Updated, 3:30 p.m. ET
The Jets' Most Valuable Player award is named after the most vaunted running back in franchise history, but for the fourth straight season a defensive player will take home the honor.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie today was named the winner of the Curtis Martin MVP Award in a vote of the Jets players.
Cromartie, the seventh-year man out of Florida State in his third season with the Green & White, helped bring the defense together after the season-ending Week 3 knee injury suffered by Darrelle Revis. "Cro" took over the Revis role of spending most of each game covering the other team's top wideout, and with two games to go, Cromartie leads the defense with three interceptions and 17 pass defenses and has been key in leading the Jets defense up the NFL rankings to second in pass defense and eighth in overall yardage allowed.
"It's a great accomplishment, and it just speaks volumes to what the guys think of me as a player and trying to be a leader of this team," Cromartie said. "Honestly, without them, I wouldn't be the MVP. The guys looked to me to just try to make sure that we turned it up and did the things we needed to do on the back end."
He continues the trend under head coach Rex Ryan of defensive players snaring the MVP. Revis won the prize in 2009 and again last season and LB David Harris took the honor in 2010.
Harris did receive another team honor this year, however, when he was named the winner of the Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Award. Harris is the first defensive player to win this award since Eric Barton in '04. Running backs had taken the Byrd the previous four years — Thomas Jones in 2008-09 and LaDainian Tomlinson in 2010-11.
"It means a lot, especially to be voted by my teammates," Harris said this afternoon. "Everybody knows what Dennis Byrd means to the Jets organization, with everything that happened to him. It's one of the top awards you can get from the guys in this locker room."
The Ed Block Courage Award, also voted on by the team, goes to TE Jeff Cumberland, who came back from last year's early season-ending Achilles injury to become one of the Jets' most reliable pass-catchers this year in the wake of the injuries to TE Dustin Keller and WRs Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill. Cumberland is second on the Jets with 323 receiving yards, tied for third with 26 receptions, and tied for first with three touchdown catches.
"Coming back from any injury is tough. Coming back from my injury, you've basically got to learn how to walk again," Cumberland said. "It's really important to know that your teammates saw the work you were putting in to get back on the field. I felt back to normal, I'd say, some time during camp. And I feel like I've been able to show people and my coaches and teammates that I can come out and do well, as far as the running game with blocking, and in the passing game, when my number's called, I can make plays."
Three players divvied up the two awards presented to the team on a vote of the media relations and community staffs. The Marty Lyons Community Service award goes to DT Mike DeVito.
"I've always had so much respect for Marty, as a player and for the type of person he is," said DeVito of his fellow defensive tackle. "I'm honored to accept an award that has his name on it, and I love this community. The Jets organization has a great focus on the community and on giving back and I've really bought into it in the New York/New Jersey area where we live."
The Kyle Clifton Good Guy award is shared by QB Greg McElroy and tackle Austin Howard.
"It's an honor, obviously, to receive this," said McElroy, who's set to make his first pro start at QB for the Jets against the Chargers on Sunday. "My parents always taught me to treat everyone with respect and to appreciate each relationship. I'm just very, very grateful that people view me in that light, and I would like to continue to affect people in a positive way."
"It's always very much appreciated to get recognized for anything, especially from guys who deserve it much more than I do," said Howard, who'll be protecting McElroy's open side and opening holes for Shonn Greene's attempt to rush for 1,000 yards for the second straight year. "I didn't even know this was an award. I know Greg's an awesome guy, and I'm learning to be a good teammate and a good person around the complex, especially from the great veterans on our offensive line."
Cromartie was asked how he felt his season has gone and he put it in perspective for him and his fellow award winners and teammates as the Jets enter their last two games against the Chargers and Bills knowing they've been eliminated from postseason contention.
"I'd rather have a winning record, to be honest with you, and to have a chance to make the playoffs," Cro said. "It's kind of a bittersweet award. We have so much talent and leadership on this team. We want to make sure we finish off this season the best we can and finish at .500 rather than have a losing record.