Remember when the Bengals were a national punchline for their off-the-field antics and issues? Neither do we. Every year the NFLPA (National Football League Players Association) awards members of each team a "PULSE Award", honoring them for their efforts in the surrounding community of the team that they play for, as well as their own hometown areas. The Bengals have two young men who are deserving of the award this season.
Linebacker Vincent Rey and defensive end Michael Johnson were the Bengals' winners this season. Both have done outstanding work in the community and the NFLPA panel took notice. Each NFL team had anywhere from two to four winners, with the Miami Dolphins being the lone team with four. All of the PULSE Award winners will be in the running the highly-esteemed "Byron 'Whizzer' White Award", where one PULSE winner will be bestowed that distinct honor.
Here's a little background on both the PULSE Award and the Byron "Whizzer" White Award, via the NFLPA Press Release:
The NFL Players Association annually recognizes players who go above and beyond to perform community service in their team cities and hometowns. During annual NFLPA locker room meetings, players selected teammates to receive NFLPA PULSE Awards for their outstanding work in the community. These winners were invited to submit applications for the Byron "Whizzer" White Award and received monetary donations for their foundations or a charity of their choice.
The Byron "Whizzer" White Award is the highest honor the NFLPA can bestow on a player. The award was established by the professional football players of America to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to one of their own, Supreme Court Justice Byron Raymond "Whizzer" White—scholar, athlete, patriot, humanitarian and public servant. The NFLPA presents this prestigious annual award to the player that is just as dedicated off the field as he is on the field.
A panel of peers will select five finalists from the pool of PULSE winners. All finalists will receive additional charity donations and one will be named the 2013 Byron "Whizzer" White Award winner and receive an additional $100,000 for his charity. The 2013 Byron "Whizzer" White judging panel includes – Mike Florio (Pro Football Talk), Jim Trotter (Sports Illustrated), Richard Trumka (President, AFL-CIO) and Brian Waters (Pro Player Insiders). The winner will be announced at the NFLPA’s State of the Union press conference at the Super Bowl media center in New Orleans.
It's a very neat honor for each winner to be selected for this award by both the NFLPA and their peers, so big a big pat on the back to both Rey and Johnson for their PULSE Awards. They are just two of the "new-look" Bengals that Marvin Lewis has put together over the past few seasons. Not only are Rey and Johnson doing good work on the field, but they are giving back in the community in a big way.