Monday, January 2, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs select Justin Houston Rookie of the Year

Justin Houston, LB, Kansas City Chiefs

A week after earning the first Pro Bowl invitation of his career, Derrick Johnson was recognized by his teammates for outstanding play throughout the 2011 season.
Head coach Romeo Crennel announced during Monday's final team meeting that Johnson had been selected as this season’s Derrick Thomas MVP Award winner. Chiefs players also voted Justin Houston as the team’s Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year Award recipient.
“Being in my seventh year, this is a big deal,” Johnson said of the honor. “It’s a player’s award and whenever you have respect from your teammates, that’s all you need.”
Johnson has been a mainstay for the Chiefs defense since he joined the team as a first-round draft pick in 2005, but his seventh NFL season was by far his most productive. Johnson not only established a new franchise single-season tackle record, but also became the unquestioned on-field leader of the Chiefs defense.
His selection as team MVP came as a no-brainer for teammates on both sides of the football.
“He’s the leader of the defense and he’s just so consistent,” said defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who voted for Johnson. “He’s always around the football and plays with a lot of effort. He just pretty much has the mentality of the team.”
Besides leading the team with 179 tackles, Johnson also added 11 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, a pair of interceptions, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His final statistics were impressive, but it was his leadership that impressed teammates most.
“He’s more vocal and he’s owning the leadership of our defense more than any other time since I’ve been here,” Dorsey explained. “He commands the huddle and he had a tremendous year.”
Johnson is the first linebacker to win the Chiefs MVP award since Marvcus Patton did so in 1999.
It’s an award that Johnson felt could have just as easily gone to fellow linebacker Tamba Hali, who Johnson nominated as his choice for the honor.
 “A few people knew they voted for me, so they were looking over at me like I was going to win it,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘no, it’s probably going to be Tamba.’ Tamba already told me that we’ll be fighting for it again next year.”

For Houston, it was a midseason surge that resonated with teammates most.
After beginning the year as a situational outside linebacker, Houston developed into an every-down player as the season went on. He finished second on the team only to Hali with 5.5 sacks.
A third-round pick out of Georgia, Houston finished his rookie season with 70 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 12 QB pressures. His 5.5 sacks tied for the fifth-highest total by a rookie in Chiefs history and he also recorded six special teams stops.
Johnson was one of the players who voted Houston for the award.
“It’s just the way that he came on,” Johnson said. “For a guy mid-season, to grow up the way he did was great. I definitely had to put him down.”
Johnson and Houston will officially accept their awards at the 42nd Annual 101 Banquet held March 3rd at the Westin Crown Center.

Derrick Thomas Award
For the past 29 years, the Chiefs have upheld the tradition of selecting the club’s most valuable player. Named in honor of the late Derrick Thomas, the Chiefs custom is especially meaningful for its recipients because it is selected by a vote of its peers. Thomas was the heart and soul of the Kansas City defense from 1989-99 and will always be regarded as one of the best linebackers to ever play the game.
1979S Gary Barbaro1996S Mark Collins
1980DE Art Still1997WR Andre Rison
1981RB Joe Delaney1998G/T Glenn Parker
1982CB Gary Green1999LB Marvcus Patton
1983QB Bill Kenney2000WR Derrick Alexander
1984DE Art Still2001RB Priest Holmes
1985S Lloyd Burruss2002RB Priest Holmes
1986CB Albert Lewis2003QB Trent Green
1987WR Carlos Carson2004QB Trent Green
1988S Deron Cherry2005RB Larry Johnson
1989RB Christian Okoye2006RB Larry Johnson
1990QB Steve DeBerg2007DE Jared Allen
1991LB Derrick Thomas2008TE Tony Gonzalez
1992DE Neil Smith2009RB Jamaal Charles
1993RB Marcus Allen2010RB Jamaal Charles
1994LB Derrick Thomas2011LB Derrick Johnson
1995RB Marcus Allen

Mack Lee Hill Award
Each year since 1966, Chiefs players have selected a recipient for the Mack Lee Hill Award. It is a tribute to the late Mack Lee Hill, a great running back who played as much with his heart as he did his driving legs. The award is presented annually to the Chiefs rookie or first year player who, as the inscription on the trophy reads - “best exemplifies the spirit of the late Mack Lee Hill … the man with the giant heart and the quiet way.”
1966RB Mike Garrett1990LB Percy Snow
1967K Jan Stenerud1991LB Tracy Simien
1968RB Robert Holmes1992WR Willie Davis
1969CB Jim Marsalis1993G Will Shields
1970C Jack Rudnay1994WR Lake Dawson
1971WR Elmo Wright1995WR Tamarick Vanover
1972WR Larry Marshall1996S Reggie Tongue
1973TE Gary Butler1997TE Tony Gonzalez
1974RB Woody Green1998T Victor Riley
1975TE Walter White1999LB Mike Maslowski
1976S Gary Barbaro2000S Greg Wesley
1977CB Gary Green2001DT Eric Downing
1978NT Don Parrish2002LB Scott Fujita
1979P Bob Grupp2003LB Kawika Mitchell
1980CB Eric HarrisDE Jimmy Wilkerson
1981S Lloyd Burruss2004DE Jared Allen
1982C Les Studdard2005LB Derrick Johnson
1983T David Lutz2006DE Tamba Hali
1984CB Kevin Ross2007WR Dwayne Bowe
1985RB Jeff Smith2008CB Maurice Leggett
1986LB Dino Hackett2009K Ryan Succop
1987RB Christian Okoye2010S Eric Berry
1988RB James Saxon2011OLB Justin Houston
1989LB Derrick Thomas

By Josh Looney, KC Chiefs Website


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