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Asomugha up for Walter Payton Award

During the NFL post season, three official awards will be handed out: the Pro Bowl MVP, the Super Bowl MVP, and the Walter Payton Man of the Year award. Oakland Raiders veteran cornerback, Nnamdi Asomugha, has an opportunity to win two of these awards this year.

Asomugha will be joined by teammates Richard Seymour, Shane Lechler, and Zach Miller on the practice field in Honolulu, Hawaii this week in preparation for the Pro Bowl. But the following week, at the Super Bowl prior to the game, the NFL will announce the winner of the Walter Payton award which will honor a league player for his contributions to those less fortunate. There is a strong chance that Asomugha could be this year’s recipient. The other two finalists for the award are Chicago Bears defensive lineman Israel Idonije, and Vikings safety Madieu Williams. Asomugha and Idonije will attend the ceremony; Williams has a pre-existing commitment to visit U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf.

If he receives the award, Asomugha will join a long list of NFL Man of the Year award winners. The most recent were 2008’s Kurt Warner, the Arizona Cardinals quarterback, who actually played in the Super Bowl that day, and 2009’s Brian Waters, the Kansas City Chiefs guard. Each year, a winner is selected from 32 nominees from the 32 different teams. A panel of judges, which includes the Commissioner of the NFL, the previous year’s winner, Connie Payton (widow of Walter Payton), and a committee of former players, selects the winner of the award. The Man of the Year winner receives a $25,000 donation in his name to a charity of his choice. The other 31 finalists also receive donations in their name of $1,000 each to charities of their choice.

On Another Note

This may be neither here nor there, but I seem to remember a large portion of the Raider Nation wanting B.J. Raji to be the Raiders’ number seven draft pick over wide receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey. Many people wanted him more than they wanted Michael Crabtree. Raji made it official today, with his interception and return for a touchdown; he scored as many points as DHB did this season.

And congratulations are in order for former Raiders cornerback and first round draft choice, Charles Woodson. He will be making his second trip to the big dance two weeks from today and hopefully this time it will turn out better than the last time for him. He was part of the Raiders team that epically failed against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nearly a decade ago.

One More Thing

Green Bay Packers assistant head coach and linebackers coach Winston Moss has been rumored to be the front runner for the Oakland Raiders vacant defensive coordinator job. Moss was a second round pick of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 1987 NFL draft, but also played for the Los Angeles Raiders for a stint as well as their former divisional foe, the Seattle Seahawks.

Moss began his coaching career in 1998 as a defensive assistant/quality control for the Seattle Seahawks. He was hired by the New Orleans Saints in 2000 as defensive assistant/quality control and was promoted to linebackers coach near the end of that season. Moss was hired by the Packers to become their linebackers coach on January 19, 2006. He was promoted to assistant head coach by head coach Mike McCarthy in 2007. Following a disappointing 2008 season for the Packers, Moss was the only major defensive coach not to be fired by McCarthy.

The Raiders have not yet been able to interview Moss, but may have an opportunity to do so this week as the teams rest their bodies in preparation for the Super Bowl. They may, however, have to wait until after Super Bowl week, and knowing Al Davis, he may just be respectful enough to wait regardless of the “bye” week this week. Moss would be an interesting hire for the Raiders and could signify a change of schemes forthcoming as the Packers run primarily a 3-4 base defense.

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