Former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who received the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football on Saturday at the 101 Awards Banquet, has a special memory of a game at Arrowhead Stadium.
“If I had a list of maybe the three most memorable dates of my 17 years as commissioner, probably one of them would be Sept. 23, 2001, which was the Sunday we resumed play after the attacks on the World Trade Center.
“The Giants played the Chiefs that day, and on the field that day we had Wellington Mara, the senior owner in the NFC; Lamar Hunt, the senior owner in the AFC; Gene Upshaw, who was head of the players association; and myself.
“The most amazing part of the day was the roar that came from the Chiefs fans as the Giants took the field, because they were representing New York and representing the resilience of America. To be back in Kansas City and relive those memories and to receive the Lamar Hunt Award is a phenomenal honor.”
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Arians doubles up
Arizona coach Bruce Arians won his first 101 Coach of the Year award after serving as interim coach at Indianapolis when head coach Chuck Pagano was battling leukemia in 2012.
Arians won the 2014 NFC Coach of the Year honors after leading the Cardinals to an 11-5 record and their first playoff berth since 2009 despite a siege of injuries that included his top two quarterbacks.
“This is the ultimate team sport,” said Arians. “It was a year where every Monday, we’d come in and ask, ‘Who’s out for the year? Who’s next?’ (General manager) Steve Keim would bring a guy in off the street, and we’d play him on Sunday. You can’t thank your players enough for coming to work every Monday with the idea we were going to win on that next Sunday, no matter what.”
Sherman’s son takes sting out of Super Bowl loss
It took a while for the Seattle Seahawks to recover from their 28-24 loss to New England in Super Bowl XLIX, but cornerback Richard Sherman said the birth of his son, Rayden, four days after the game, soothed the disappointment.
“It took all the sting out of it,” Sherman said. “That’s a lot more important than football. Football is fleeting. You only play this game for so long, and (fatherhood) is something that will be a lifetime. I’ll have my son and raise him, and it’s a lot bigger than football. I’ve won a Super Bowl, we lost one. We’ll be back next year. It’s not the end of the world.”
Steelers share award
Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown, who led the NFL in receptions (129) and receiving yards (1,698), and running back Le’Veon Bell, the AFC’s leading rusher (1,361 yards), shared the AFC Offensive Player of the Year award, the first time that’s happened in the 101 Awards’ 45 years.
“We couldn’t do it without a quarterback and the other 10 guys on the field,” Brown said, “and we’re disappointed that Ben (Roethlisberger) isn’t here because he’s the one who gets it started. But the guy to my left (Bell) … I wouldn’t want to share this with anyone else.”