The Detroit Lions announced today that the players have voted DL Darryl Tapp as the winner of the "Mike Utley Spirit Award." The award is named after Utley, who was paralyzed while playing with the Lions in 1991, but gave a thumbs up while being wheeled off the field, and was a big motivation to a Lions team that advanced to the NFC Championship game.
Tapp had his best year of a pro in 2015. The veteran DE was one of three defensive linemen in the league to have played at least 400 snaps without being penalized, as well as recording 2.0 sacks on the season.
Head Coach Jim Caldwell recognizes Tapp's meaning to this Lions team, as he explained in a press conference earlier this year.
"HE'S A VERY, VERY AUTHENTIC PERSON, AND YOU NEED GUYS LIKE HIM. MATTER OF FACT, BEFORE HE CAME IN, (D-LINE COACH) JIM WASHBURN SAID TO US, 'HEY, IF WE SIGN THIS GUY, LET ME JUST TELL YOU SOMETHING. THIS GUY IS A FORCE MULTIPLIER.' NOBODY QUITE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HE MEANT. CERTAINLY WE UNDERSTAND THE TERM, BUT IT CAME TO FRUITION WHEN HE WALKED INTO THE BUILDING."
DSN will be here to keep you updated on all the team awards, so stay tuned to DSN as more are announced in the coming days.