Introducing the Inaugural WFNY Cleveland Sports Awards

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-

Joe Haden.

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!)

  • Cooley Ford

    Interestingly, of the three Cavs game I attended this past season, I was actually at both games mentioned. I voted for Peyton Hillis (seriously now, come on), but there’s just no way they beat L.A. without Hickson. He played to his ceiling that night.

    For the record, the building was louder when we snapped the losing streak than it was during some of the first round games in 2009-2010. It just was.

  • Alex Mathews

    Peyton Hillis and it’s not even close. The rest of the nominees just had good days, (with J.J. Hickson admittedly overacheving).

  • Harv 21

    Bowens? Hollins? Hickson? A bunt?

    Write-in: Colt McCoy v. Patriots. Peyton was surely a monster, but Evil Genius Bill game-planned to mess up the rook and he stood up to everything that was thrown at him. Stats do not matter. A star might have been born that day.

  • Rick

    Hillis is leading early on, but this isn’t a slam dunk in my opinion.

  • Kevin Hignett

    Really, really hard choice betweein Hickson and Hillis. I went with Hickson, partially because I think everyone else is going to pick Hillis. Both were fantastic performances though.

    Absolute no-brainer on Haden. I really hope he’s a Cleveland Brown for a very long time.

  • Alex Mathews

    Also, interesting that you guys picked the Travis Hafner homer on May 13th instead of the Carlos Santana walk-off grand slam. That would’ve been my Indians choice.

  • Rick

    Alex- I have a feeling you will see that game mentioned at a later date in the WFNY awards….

  • Jay

    Didn’t Peyton Hillis also complete a pass (maybe for a score, or first down) in that New England game?

  • Matt S

    Put my vote down for Peyton Hillis.

  • dgriff13

    I was at the Reds/Indians game with the Ezequiel Carrera bunt- got tix for my mom for mother’s day while we were in town for a wedding. It was am awesome atmosphere.. followed by the Friday fireworks. But I’m not sure I can give it to him for the best of the year. There’s just something about Hillis…

    Woofnies. High-five your daughter for me. LOL!

  • phxoh

    How about Reggie Hodges against NO. Arguably the greatest moment for a punter, that run completely changed that game, its something you hardly ever see.

  • dgriff13

    btw- from a designer, nice job on the clock award. Clock implies “waiting”, and it’s got all the different team logos. Nicely done, great idea & implementation.

  • CLESportsFan

    I voted for Hollins because of all the games these nominees took part in, that game versus the Heat meant the most to all Cleveland fans.

    Is it freaking awesome to beat the Patriots and Saints? YES! But did we have those games circled on our calendars before the season started? Hardly.

  • mgbode

    not surprising that the vote is going Hillis because of his year.

    but, on performance of a singular game, it should be hands down Bowens. he ‘won’ the NO game more than any other player.

    also, NE’s run defense was right around league average w/ 4.2YPA. I would argue Hillis’ game against Baltimore was more impressive.

  • Lou

    I am surprised the Carlos Santana triple play in the third game of the year is not on here. They were 0 and 2 at that point and that play was the spark that lead them on the incredible start they had.

  • B-bo

    Bowens all day. That was just unreal. I have no problem with Hillis appearing to be the leader here, but against the SB champs, in their house? That was a career game.

  • Scotty

    Where’s the love for Bowens? An aging linebacker with two pick sixes to give us the win over the defending super bowl champions? That’s a winner in my book.

  • MrCleaveland

    Excellent choice of Joe Haden. Hope he has a long, happy career here.

  • bobby

    What great choices. I voted Hillis but after reading through comments I dont know if IM convinced. Bowens definitely was out of right field, and by a LB… he maybe should have this one. As for JJ, that is an avg night for some players so I cant say im too impressed. If he could do that day in and day out….
    Hillis had over 200 yards tho and 2 TDs, that just doesnt happen everyday in the NFL. Its up there with an AD or CJ type day.

    – Hollins is up on my list as well, because of the +33. I dont know how often that happens, but a +33 night? thats dang impressive.

  • Juice

    Thanks dgriff13 for the kind words. Had I thought about it, I would’ve had the time as 2:16 haha (our area code), but I mainly wanted to keep the hands out of the way of the text.

  • Andrew

    I don’t like Ryan Hollins and I hope we find a way to ship him off, but that win against Miami was the Game Of The Year if you are a Cleveland fan. Nothing the Browns or Indians did was as special as the lowly Cavaliers beating the Heat. Hollins was a monster that night, even if the stats don’t jump off the page.

  • Foghorn Leghorn

    Im going with Hillis. Bowens is deserving, but if I remember correctly, wasnt at least one, if not both, of those INTs just thrown right into his gut or tipped and dropped right in his lap? I hate the Pats a lot more than the Saints too. Besides the Heat, the Pats were the opponent I despise the most in all the choices.

  • mgbode

    @Foghorn – but my wife didn’t look baffled at the screen and exclaim “they are going to let that fat guy score another TD?” at any point during the Pats game.

  • Mike in Seattle

    “The rest of the nominees just had good days”. Uhhh…yeah, that’s why it’s “PERFORMACE”, not “SEASON”.

    I voted Bowens. Two defensive TD’s against the Saints in a game that we ended up winning by 13?

    Living out west, I had no idea about how Joe Haden has taken to being a Cleveland player. Suddenly I love this guy. A bit different from showing up at the Jake for a playoff game wearing a Yankees hat. Damn that LeBron dude is an ignorant dick. (sorry)

  • Simon

    I have to make a write in vote for Shin Shoo Choo:

    September 17, 2010, goes deep three times: solo, 2-run, and a grand slam. Final line 4/5, 3R, 7 rbi.

  • Jake

    Hickson; simply because that ended the losing streak in what was the darkest time for Cleveland since the Decision. Do these awards go back into Tribe season last year? Is it one calendar year or what?

  • Jake

    Although, if we had beaten the Ravens the first time around, Hillis’ performance then should have won. It was the best I’ve ever seen in a losing effort by a Browns back