Geoff Hobson wrote that Joe Reedy, who is a member of Pro Football Writers of America, nominated Mike Zimmer for the George Halas Award which is given to the player or coach who overcame the most adversity during the past season. As we all know Zimmer had more than his fair share of adversity last year and after leading the Bengals defense to heights that Bengals fans haven't in over a decade I'd say he's overcome quite a bit.
The other players or coaches who are nominated are:
Tom Brady, quarterback of the Patriots, was nominated because he sat out almost the entire 2008 season due to a torn ACL and MCL. He had multiple surgeries and came back to lead his team to the playoffs. He was fifth in passing yards and sixth in touchdowns.
O.J. Brigance, the director of player development for the Ravens, was nominated because he showed up for work every day last season even though he has been battling Lou Gehrig's Disease since 2007. He set up Brigance Brigade, an ALS research foundation.
Joe DeCamillas and Rich Behm of the Cowboys were both nominated because of injuries they suffered when the Cowboys practice facility collapsed. Behm, a scout, was paralyzed from the waist down but returned to work only a couple of months later. DeCamillas, the special teams coach, fractured his neck but still didn't miss OTA's.
Cadillac Williams, running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was nominated because he tore his Patellar tendon in his right knee in 2007 and then tore the same tendon in his left knee the last game of 2008. It was assumed that his career was over but Williams came back and played all 16 games in 2009, leading the Buccaneers running game with 211 carries, 823 yards and four touchdowns.
And then there's Zimmer. Hobson wrote:
Mike Zimmer, Bengals: Cincinnati’s defensive coordinator lost his wife on Oct. 8. Vikki Zimmer was found dead at age 50 in the family’s home. The two were married 27 years. Zimmer persevered on the job and led the Bengals to a No. 4 ranking in total defense (the highest for the team since 1983). In two seasons he has taken the Bengals defense from 27th to 12th to fourth. Zimmer spoke openly to reporters after a Week 9 game against Baltimore about how tough the previous month had been and how he was devoting more time to his daughters, Marki and Corri, who came up to visit him from Dallas. His son Adam is a linebackers coach with the Chiefs.
All of these men deserve this award, in my opinion. Most of us have not and hopefully will not have to endure what these brave men have. Having said that, Zimmer was married to his wife, Vikki, for 27 years. That's longer than I have been alive. I'm not trying to be a homer or say that losing a spouse is harder or worse than being paralyzed or battling ALS or having to have your knees repaired in any way. I don't know what any of those things feel like and I don't want to know.
I just think considering what Zimmer has been through and considering the accomplishment of transforming a defense that was a laughing stock of the NFL to a top five defense in the league is worthy of this award.
The members of the Pro Football Writers of America are expected to vote for the award winner soon and a winner is expected to be announced within the next week.