We’re calling them the Woofnies. Quick back-story. My daughter (5 years old at the time) jumps in my lap as I’m writing one evening. She takes a look at the site logo and says “Dad what’s woofnie?” Apparently that’s how you pronounce WFNY.
Each day we will present one Woofnie chosen by the staff here at WFNY, and introduce an award category for you to vote on. The comment section, as always is for you to defend your selection, tell us why we’re brilliant with our selection, or I suppose argue why we got it wrong (not that we ever get things wrong). The awards are for June ’10- June ’11. And here we go!
The first WFNY Cleveland Sports Award is the civic pride award.
Think for a moment about the average pro athlete. They are drafted at a young age, and told they have to move across the country and play for a team that odds are they never rooted for growing up. They likely don’t know anyone, save for maybe a player or two from the same draft class. The town is completely different from where they grew up. The fans here are knowledgeable, but also opinionated. They are somewhat sensitive and perhaps a bit desperate for a title. You’ve probably never spent much time in Cleveland before you are asked to represent the city. Tough spot, huh?
There are plenty of athletes that ‘give back to their community’. They establish charities in whatever city they are drafted to. They show up at United Way events, or whatever the team or their publicist schedules for them. Then there are the ones that go beyond. The players that really make an effort while they are here to embrace the city and the culture.
There were several deserving candidates for this award. Baron Davis of the Cavaliers jumped into Cleveland with both feet after being traded this season. His attitude was commendable and garners him an honorable mention. Josh Cribbs would have probably won this award for 2 or 3 years straight if we started giving them out when the site first appeared.This year there was just a little more competition.
The winner of the Woofnie for civic pride goes to-
The Browns defensive back arrived on the scene sporting a large golden gator head on a chain (a nod to Florida, his alma mater) and by the end of the basketball season was wearing full replica uniforms court-side, complete with Andy Varejao wig or fake Baron Davis beard. He has also taken in Indians games, and was one of the good luck charms employed by Dan Gilbert on the night of the draft lottery. Haden is more than just a supporter of the other pro teams in town, he is big into helping the community, demonstrated by his support of a little league baseball team. He gets Clevelanders. He sees the passion we have for our teams and he wants to be a part of it. Well done Joe.
Now it’s time for the reader’s choice award for the day.
The category today is Performance of the Year. This is about one game, one moment, one individual performance that is worthy of being called ‘The Best in Cleveland’ for the year. Your nominees are-
David Bowens, October 24th, Browns vs New Orleans Saints. On a day that he wasn’t expected to play much, 33 year old David Bowens came through with 2 interceptions that he ran back for touchdowns as the Browns beat the defending champs 30-17.
Ryan Hollins, March 29th, Cavaliers vs Miami Heat. Hollins, in and out of coach Scott’s doghouse for most of the year, had his best performance as a Cavalier on the biggest stage. After an embarrassing loss to Miami in December, in which the team wasn’t physical, Hollins played the part of paint enforcer and finished with 13 points, 3 blocks and the Cavs were +33 with him on the floor.
J.J. Hickson, February 11th, Cavaliers vs Los Angeles Clippers. In the game that ended the losing streak, Hickson was a monster. He went for 27 pts, 14 boards and 4 blocks including a block of a Blake Griffin dunk and one of Baron Davis’ shot to send the game to OT. He played the majority of the 4th and all of OT with 5 fouls.
Peyton Hillis, November 7th, Browns vs New England Patriots. Hillis ran over, around and through defenders for 185 yards and 2 TDs against the Patriots. He also had 36 yards receiving on 3 catches. Not too shabby.
Travis Hafner, May 13th, Indians vs Mariners. Hafner wins a game walk-off style with an absolute bomb off Seattle closer Brandon League. Reportedly, Hafner was screaming the lyrics to Cleveland Rocks when his teammates mobbed him.
Ezequiel Carrera, May 20th, Indians vs Cincinnati Reds. Carrera, called up that day bunts the first ML pitch of his career for a base hit scoring Choo, completing a four run comeback. An unlikely hero.
Now it’s your turn. Who gets the Woofnie for Performance of the Year?
(Big thanks to Michael Brenkus for the image wizardry!)