The New York Jets announced their 2008 Team Awards today. Running back Thomas Jones was voted as the Curtis Martin Team Most Valuable Player and received the Dennis Byrd Award for Most Inspirational Player. Fullback Tony Richardson earned the Marty Lyons Award for Community Service, Safety Abram Elam was honored with the Kyle Clifton Good Guy Award and wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery received the Ed Block Courage Award.
Jones was named the Curtis Martin MVP as voted by his teammates. He has had a record-breaking year scoring a career-best and franchise-record 15 touchdowns, including a franchise record 13 rushing touchdowns. Both records were previously held by Martin, the team's four-time MVP.
Jones has scored a touchdown in eight consecutive games, also a new franchise record. A true team leader, the Jets are 10-2 in games in which Jones has scored a touchdown over the past two seasons, 8-2 in 2008. He is currently leading the AFC and is fifth in the NFL with 1,222 yards on 263 carries (4.6) and was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month for November.
Earlier in the season, he became the 49th back in NFL history to surpass 7,000 rushing yards. Included in his 138-yard, two-touchdown game vs. DEN, 11/30, was a 59-yard scoring run in the first quarter, the longest touchdown run of his career. This score pushed him over 1,000 rushing yards for the fourth consecutive season (his second as a Jet) and marks the 14th time a Jets running back has rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season.
Jones rushed for back-to-back 100 yard games for the first time since 2006 when he was with CHI. He recorded his first three-touchdown game vs. CIN, 10/12, scoring on two runs (7, 1) and a two-yard reception, the 49th player to catch a touchdown pass from Brett Favre.
As the recipient of the Byrd Award, Jones is constantly cited as an example of work ethic on and off the field, as voted on by his teammates.
"He's passionate. He definitely has that side to him. That's just a small facet of how he leads," head coach Eric Mangini said earlier this week. "Thomas' leadership comes during the week where he is in the weight room and he's bringing a bunch of guys in there with him, or the way that he is working at practice. All those things that you can look at that are hard to do.
"It's easy to give a speech at the game and get fired up there, in front of 70,000 people. That's the easy part. The hard part is when you're tired, when it's 12, 10, 14 and you're still being the same guy, you're improving. You're a veteran guy who is having a great year, but you're doing all the little things that got you there. That is leadership."
Tony Richardson was awarded the Lyons Award, given to the player who gives from the heart through charity and community involvement, as voted by Jets staff. Richardson is renowned for his dedicated off-the-field support to causes and programs in the community throughout his 14 years in the NFL. Also as recognition for his service, he was previously named the Jets 2008 Walter Payton Man of the Year.
He established the Rich in Spirit Foundation in 1999 to extend a helping hand in order to uplift the lives and spirits of individuals, with particular attention to enhancing personal growth in children. Since its inception, the three-time Pro Bowl fullback has personally donated more than one-million dollars and made more than 1,000 appearances. Most recently, Richardson hosted a shopping spree for Generations Jets Academy at Toys "R" Us in Livingston, NJ, in which he purchased $5,000 worth of gift cards so each student received $200 to shop during the holidays.
Richardson was named Pro Football Weekly's "Arthur S. Arkush Humanitarian of the Year" in 2003; recipient of the 2006 OverTime Magazine's OTX Lifelong Service Award; received the 2005 Distinguished Citizen Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice, an organization dedicated to fighting bias, bigotry and racism in America; recipient of the 2002 Pop Warner Round Table Award; and voted an "NFL Good Guy" for five consecutive years by The Sporting News.
Abram Elam received the Clifton Good Guy Award as voted by the Jets staff. The award, in its 12th season, recognizes exceptionally consistent willingness, cooperation and professionalism in every day dealings with the various departments within the organization. Elam's success off the field has produced results on the field as well. He was involved in a record-setting touchdown and victory against BUF, 12/14, when he had a strip-sack of Quarterback J.P. Losman which resulted in Shaun Ellis' game-winning fumble recovery for a touchdown. Also against BUF, 11/2, Elam picked off a Trent Edwards' pass and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown.
Jerricho Cotchery was awarded the Ed Block Courage Award. The 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.
Cotchery, 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. Cotchery and his wife, Mercedes, created the Cotchery Foundation in January 2007, as a not-for-profit organization established to benefit underprivileged youth.
The foundations' mission is to inspire children to conceive and achieve goals by providing programs and serviced designed to enhance their futures. The Cotchery Foundation hopes to plant seeds that bridge the gap between what you have and what you hope for, ultimately demonstrating that the two can be one and the same. Cotchery is also the team's leading receiver with 63 receptions for 736 yards and five touchdowns.