The New York Jets announced their 2006 Team Awards today. Wide receiver Laveranues Coles was voted as the team's Most Valuable Player, quarterback Chad Pennington was named the recipient of The Dennis Byrd Award for Most Inspirational Player, Chris Baker was voted the winner of The Ed Block Courage Award, while safety Erik Coleman earned The Marty Lyons Award for Community Service and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery captured The Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award.
Wide receiver Laveranues Coles was named the team's Most Valuable Player as voted by his teammates. Coles has 87 catches for 1,065 yards and six TDs this season, all team highs. He needs seven receptions to break the franchise record for receptions in a season of 93 set by Al Toon in 1988. He has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the third time in his career and is the 94th player in NFL history with at least 500 receptions (502-6,566-13.1-31 TD). In Week 15 at Minnesota, Coles tied his career high with 12 catches, good for 144 yards (his fifth 100-yard receiving game of the season) and his team leading sixth touchdown reception. He now has 18 career 100-yard games, including 11 as a Jet, seventh on the Jets' all-time list.
Winning the Dennis Byrd Most Inspirational Player Award, as voted by his teammates, was starting quarterback Chad Pennington. Rebounding from a second shoulder surgery in 2005, Pennington has led the Jets to an 8-6 record, throwing for 2,958 yards and 15 touchdowns for an 81.3 passer rating in 14 games. Pennington has thrown over 300 yards three times this season, including a career best 339 yards in a 26-13 victory at Minnesota. Pennington is the second-most accurate passer in NFL history, completing 65.3 percent of his passes in his career. Pennington has also missed time with a wrist injury in 2003 and a shoulder injury in 2004.
Tight end Chris Baker was named the recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, as voted by his teammates. Originally from Queens, NY, Baker returned to his hometown as the Jets third-round selection in 2002. He has earned the reputation of being a team-first player that is equally adept in the passing game as a receiver as he is blocking at the point of attack in the running game. He is enjoying the most productive season of his career, with 28 receptions for 270 yards and three touchdowns through 14 games. Baker first earned the starting tight end position in 2005 but his season was cut short in November when he suffered a season-ending leg injury that required surgery. After seven months of rehabilitation, Baker returned to the field and regained his starting job in 2006.
The Ed Block Courage Award is named in honor of Ed Block, the longtime head athletic trainer of the Baltimore Colts who was a pioneer in his profession and a respected humanitarian. The award is given annually to one player from each NFL team. Courage Award recipients embody everything that is positive about professional athletes as they serve as inspirations in their locker rooms and constructive role models in their communities. Baker, along with each team's award recipient, will travel to Baltimore in March to receive his trophy at a gala and spend time at the local Courage House at St. Vincent's Center. This visit, and the time spent with the hospitalized children, allows each recipient to fully comprehend the true meaning of the award.
Capturing The Marty Lyons Award for Community Service was safety Erik Coleman, who has dedicated off-the-field support to causes and programs in the community. Coleman is the spokesman for two campaigns designed to promote fitness and healthy living in children. The *Feed Your Mind *campaign, for which Coleman is a spokesman, encourages students to eat healthy and stay fit by educating parents and children about the nutritional reforms taking place in public school cafeterias, where a variety of healthy meals now are included on the menu. *What Moves U, *created by the NFL and the American Heart Association, is a national youth movement and awareness campaign designed to promote physical fitness and healthy living to an increasingly inactive generation of children. "It gives me great pride to be involved," Coleman said. "It is very important to me that our kids know how critical it is for them to get out and play and not sit around all day watching TV or playing video games."
Third-year wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery captured The Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award, as voted by the Jets' front office members this season. The award, now in its 11th season, recognizes exceptionally consistent willingness, cooperation and professionalism in the every day dealings with the various departments within the organization. Cotchery, from North Carolina State, has emerged as a starter this year, with 71 receptions for 858 yards (12.1 yards per catch) and five touchdowns. He was a reserve his first two seasons, catching 25 passes and playing on special teams, which included a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown during his rookie season.