I'll admit it: I'm shocked. James Harrison has been named the NFL's 2008 Defensive Player of the Year. I certainly thought he deserved to be in the conversation, and since I'm a Steelers fan, I'm obviously happy for him. But I also fully expect the Ed Reed and DeMarcus Ware supporters to make a spirited case for why their guy got hosed.
It's hard to dispute Reed's ability to blow your mind on a weekly basis, but he got off to a slow start (only one pick in the first 10 games, which, when you consider that he wasn't supposed to be playing -- maybe ever again -- is impressive in its own right), but the eight interceptions over the final six weeks of the season puts him in the mix. That he had a lot to do with the Ravens' making it to the postseason further strengthens his case.
Ware, on the other hand, recorded 20 sacks, but the Cowboys, like the rest of us, watched the playoffs from the couch last weekend. I know, I know, playing on a team not coached by Wade Phillips doesn't automatically disqualify you for Player of the Year, but there's no way Ware gets it over Harrison or Reed, two guys still playing.
Harrison (his teammates call him Deebo, no idea why) finished the 2008 regular season with 16 sacks, seven forced fumbles, one interception, and one safety. And as you've heard countless times by now, Pittsburgh and Baltimore both released him early in his career, and he served a stint in NFL Europe before finally finding a home with the Steelers.
Harrison replaced Joey Porter as the starting right outside linebacker last season, and even though Mr. Peezy had spectacular year in Miami, I'm guessing Pittsburgh's quite content with their current set-up.
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James Harrison Named Defensive Player of the Year, Ed Reed Demands Recount originally appeared on NFL FanHouse on Mon, 05 Jan 2009 13:00:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.