This is a most unusual week on our football calendar. Not only is Tuesday Wednesday and Wednesday Tuesday for practice purposes due to Christmas Day falling in the middle of the week, but it's also the week the New York Jets' annual team awards are being presented.
The awards in fact were announced today, and one of the winners is not surprising in the least — defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has been named this year's Curtis Martin Jets Team MVP.
Five others were also honored during today's postpractice breakdown huddle at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center and they spoke with Randy Lange and Charlie Frankel in the locker room this afternoon:
Curtis Martin Team MVP — DE Muhammad Wilkerson
The award is one of the crowning achievements in a season full of them for the third-year DE from Temple and Linden, N.J.
"It's great. It's an accomplishment that I feel I worked hard for, but I want to celebrate this award with my teammates," Wilkerson said. "I wouldn't have it if it wasn't for them."
Head coach Rex Ryan was asked at today's news conference what has made Wilkerson the still growing impact player he has become.
"It starts with the individual to get to that level. He's got to have the work ethic, the commitment, all that kind of stuff, to push himself to be a great player," Ryan said. "He's also had help along the way. We have a great defensive line coach in Karl Dunbar, who I think has done an outstanding job with him.
"And I think Mo will tell you he gets pushed by his teammates. It's a great group over there. They'll push each other to try to be the best, and that elevates guys' play as well."
Wilkerson, whose major season-long trademark has been getting to the quarterback — his 10.5 sacks lead the team and mark the first double-digit sacker since John Abraham in 2005 — said the award is extra special because those teammates of his are the ones who named him MVP.
"That basically means those guys thought I pretty much helped the team out a lot," he said, "but I'm always going to share my awards with my teammates because I feel like if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't have gotten the award."
This is the fifth year that the players have voted for a MVP from the defensive side of the ball under head coach Rex Ryan. Yet Wilkerson is only the second D-lineman to win the highest team honor and the first since DT John Elliott was presented with the MVP title at the end of the 1970 season.
Dennis Byrd Award for Most Inspirational — LB Demario Davis
Back at the start of training camp, Davis said about his role for the upcoming season: "I know guys are looking at me as a leader. I know Coach is looking at me as a leader. You have to be a great guy both on and off the field. That's what a great leader does."
He's lived by those words, his teammates took notice, and as a result he's taking home the Byrd award this year. To get just a glimpse into just how inspirational Davis can be, check out the video to the right.
"You play this game for your teammates, for your brothers, and it's important that your brothers think about you," Davis said today. "That just says they don't take for granted what I say to them, or things like that, and I appreciate them. They inspire me as much as I guess they feel I inspire them, so that works two ways, and it's a great honor and I'm just honored to play beside these guys."
Demario follows in the footsteps of fellow inside 'backer David Harris, who took the Byrd award last year and is the seventh linebacker to be recognized as most inspirational since Byrd, the DE who suffered his paralyzing injury late in the 1992 season, was the recipient of the first such honor.
Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award — K Nick Folk
Folk's having quite a season, having hit 31 of his 33 field goal attempts, but no matter how good the seventh-year pro's season is going, he's always into giving back as well as receiving.
"It's great anytime you can be a good guy and help your teammates and the fans out," Folk said. "I just try to be as positive as I can be."
The award is voted on by the Jets staff for Folk's cooperation with the media and different team events, but perhaps his teammates might have also voted him as this year's good guy. During his interview, he passed out wrapped gifts to different players who were blocking on the line in front of him during his placekicks.
"Being the field goal kicker, you get all the recognition," Folk said, "but those guys deserve all the credit for doing their jobs and helping me do mine."
Folk is the first kicker and second special-teamer to receive this honor since it was begun in 1996. Last year's dual winners were T Austin Howard and QB Greg McElroy.
Marty Lyons Award for Community Service — CB Kyle Wilson
Wilson said being presented with this year's "Marty" was "pretty sweet."
"It's nice to be recognized for this. You never really do anything looking for something in return," Wilson said. "All of the acts in the community and the different things you do for the kids, you do it just to see the smiles on their faces. To be recognized in front of my teammates, coaches and peers for this is great."
Kyle is the first cornerback and third DB to win this honor since Lyons, the former Jets first-round pick, member of the Sack Exchange and current radio analyst, won the first such award in 1990.
Ed Block Courage Award — CB Isaiah Trufant
Trufant, who injured his knee 13 months ago at Seattle, has come back strong and has been a key contributor on special teams and a defensive role player again all this season.
"It's a blessing for me," Trufant said of the honor, presented each year by each NFL team to the player his teammates determine is the team's "most courageous player." "When you get any injury that ends your season, to be able to fight back from that is huge."
Isaiah follows TE Jeff Cumberland, last year's Block winner, and is the first cornerback ever and the first DB in 20 years to earn the honor since the Jets started voting on it in 1984.
Bill Hampton Award — FB Tommy Bohanon
The 10th annual "Hamp" award goes to Bohanon, the seventh-round fullback from Wake Forest who embodied this year's "Rookie who Acts Like a Pro in the Locker Room" as voted on by the team's equipment staff.
Bohanon inherits the equipment room hangar from which his uniform will hang for the next year from the 2013 winner, TE Hayden Smith. Seven offensive players have won the award, named after the Jets' longtime equipment manager.