"DeMarcus Ware was cheated out of the Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, who handed the trophy to James Harrison of the Pittsburgh Steelers."
This was my immediate reaction when I heard the news. Yes it's a bit childish but it was just my raw emotions.
After further review, I'm more understanding of the Harrison choice. SportingNews.com goes into greater detail.
NEW YORK (AP) -- James Harrison slams down the current version of the Steel Curtain better than any Pittsburgh Steeler, earning him The Associated Press 2008 Defensive Player of the Year award.
The linebacker who had a career-high 16 sacks, setting a team record, and led the NFL with a career-high seven forced fumbles, beat Dallas' DeMarcus Ware in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters announced Monday. Pittsburgh defense was the league's stingiest in total defense, pass defense and points allowed. Harrison was its main hammer.
"That's something that everybody in the league would love to have, to be voted the top player in the league for that year," Harrison said. "In my mind, I think I do -- and it's going to sound boring -- what the defense allows me to do and what my teammates allow me to do."
Harrison earned 22 votes to 13 for Ware.
I think they make a pretty good case for Harrison. I'm going to make the case for Ware.
Ware had 20 sacks. Think about that. Twenty sacks on a team were no other player had double-digit sacks. On a team with no other dominant defensive players. Harrison has Troy Polamulu (73 tackles, 7 INTs) and LaMarr Woodley (60 tackles, 11.5 sacks). Ed Reed has Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis. Ware is the center of every offensive team's gameplan. Every game. And there is no other dominant defensive player on the team to alleviate some of that pressure off of him.
Also, Ware's stats are comparable if not better. He has more sacks than Harrison and one less forced fumble than Harrison's league leading seven. True Harrison does have more tackles than Ware, but Ware has more solo tackles than Harrison. And Ware is in a division filled with dominant offensive lines and offensive lineman (Tra Thomas, Chris Samuels, Chris Snee, etc). Shoot, I think there's an equally persuasive argument that Reed (40 tackles, 9 INTs) is more deserving than Harrison.
It's not that I don't think Harrison deserves the award. He's had an awesome year and the Steelers defense is the best in the league. We found that out. But I just get the feeling that Ware lost votes because of our December swoon and that's not his fault. Not only that but the Steelers defensive prowess wasn't entirely Harrison's doing. He's part of a system that features dynamic players at every level. From where I'm sitting Ware has done more with little. And that deserves recognition too.