Teammates vote Derrick Johnson team MVP, Justin Houston Rookie of the Year

Posted Jan 2, 2012

Johnson honored with first Derrick Thomas Award; Houston voted Mack Lee Hill Award winner

A week after earning the first Pro Bowl invitation of his career, Derrick Johnson was recognized by his teammates for outstanding play throughout the 2011 season.

Head coach Romeo Crennel announced during Monday's final team meeting that Johnson had been selected as this season’s Derrick Thomas MVP Award winner. Chiefs players also voted Justin Houston as the team’s Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year Award recipient.

“Being in my seventh year, this is a big deal,” Johnson said of the honor. “It’s a player’s award and whenever you have respect from your teammates, that’s all you need.”

Johnson has been a mainstay for the Chiefs defense since he joined the team as a first-round draft pick in 2005, but his seventh NFL season was by far his most productive. Johnson not only established a new franchise single-season tackle record, but also became the unquestioned on-field leader of the Chiefs defense.

His selection as team MVP came as a no-brainer for teammates on both sides of the football.

“He’s the leader of the defense and he’s just so consistent,” said defensive end Glenn Dorsey, who voted for Johnson. “He’s always around the football and plays with a lot of effort. He just pretty much has the mentality of the team.”

Besides leading the team with 179 tackles, Johnson also added 11 tackles for loss, 2.0 sacks, a pair of interceptions, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery. His final statistics were impressive, but it was his leadership that impressed teammates most.

“He’s more vocal and he’s owning the leadership of our defense more than any other time since I’ve been here,” Dorsey explained. “He commands the huddle and he had a tremendous year.”

Johnson is the first linebacker to win the Chiefs MVP award since Marvcus Patton did so in 1999.

It’s an award that Johnson felt could have just as easily gone to fellow linebacker Tamba Hali, who Johnson nominated as his choice for the honor.

 “A few people knew they voted for me, so they were looking over at me like I was going to win it,” Johnson said. “I was like, ‘no, it’s probably going to be Tamba.’ Tamba already told me that we’ll be fighting for it again next year.”

For Houston, it was a midseason surge that resonated with teammates most.

After beginning the year as a situational outside linebacker, Houston developed into an every-down player as the season went on. He finished second on the team only to Hali with 5.5 sacks.

A third-round pick out of Georgia, Houston finished his rookie season with 70 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and 12 QB pressures. His 5.5 sacks tied for the fifth-highest total by a rookie in Chiefs history and he also recorded six special teams stops.

Johnson was one of the players who voted Houston for the award.

“It’s just the way that he came on,” Johnson said. “For a guy mid-season, to grow up the way he did was great. I definitely had to put him down.”

Johnson and Houston will officially accept their awards at the 42nd Annual 101 Banquet held March 3rd at the Westin Crown Center.

Derrick Thomas Award

For the past 33 years, the Chiefs have upheld the tradition of selecting the club’s most valuable player. Named in honor of the late Derrick Thomas, the Chiefs custom is especially meaningful for its recipients because it is selected by a vote of its peers. Thomas was the heart and soul of the Kansas City defense from 1989-99 and will always be regarded as one of the best linebackers to ever play the game.

1979 S Gary Barbaro 1996 S Mark Collins
1980 DE Art Still 1997 WR Andre Rison
1981 RB Joe Delaney 1998 G/T Glenn Parker
1982 CB Gary Green 1999 LB Marvcus Patton
1983 QB Bill Kenney 2000 WR Derrick Alexander
1984 DE Art Still 2001 RB Priest Holmes
1985 S Lloyd Burruss 2002 RB Priest Holmes
1986 CB Albert Lewis 2003 QB Trent Green
1987 WR Carlos Carson 2004 QB Trent Green
1988 S Deron Cherry 2005 RB Larry Johnson
1989 RB Christian Okoye 2006 RB Larry Johnson
1990 QB Steve DeBerg 2007 DE Jared Allen
1991 LB Derrick Thomas 2008 TE Tony Gonzalez
1992 DE Neil Smith 2009 RB Jamaal Charles
1993 RB Marcus Allen 2010 RB Jamaal Charles
1994 LB Derrick Thomas 2011 LB Derrick Johnson
1995 RB Marcus Allen

Mack Lee Hill Award

Each year since 1966, Chiefs players have selected a recipient for the Mack Lee Hill Award. It is a tribute to the late Mack Lee Hill, a great running back who played as much with his heart as he did his driving legs. The award is presented annually to the Chiefs rookie or first year player who, as the inscription on the trophy reads - “best exemplifies the spirit of the late Mack Lee Hill … the man with the giant heart and the quiet way.”

1966 RB Mike Garrett 1990 LB Percy Snow
1967 K Jan Stenerud 1991 LB Tracy Simien
1968 RB Robert Holmes 1992 WR Willie Davis
1969 CB Jim Marsalis 1993 G Will Shields
1970 C Jack Rudnay 1994 WR Lake Dawson
1971 WR Elmo Wright 1995 WR Tamarick Vanover
1972 WR Larry Marshall 1996 S Reggie Tongue
1973 TE Gary Butler 1997 TE Tony Gonzalez
1974 RB Woody Green 1998 T Victor Riley
1975 TE Walter White 1999 LB Mike Maslowski
1976 S Gary Barbaro 2000 S Greg Wesley
1977 CB Gary Green 2001 DT Eric Downing
1978 NT Don Parrish 2002 LB Scott Fujita
1979 P Bob Grupp 2003 LB Kawika Mitchell
1980 CB Eric Harris DE Jimmy Wilkerson
1981 S Lloyd Burruss 2004 DE Jared Allen
1982 C Les Studdard 2005 LB Derrick Johnson
1983 T David Lutz 2006 DE Tamba Hali
1984 CB Kevin Ross 2007 WR Dwayne Bowe
1985 RB Jeff Smith 2008 CB Maurice Leggett
1986 LB Dino Hackett 2009 K Ryan Succop
1987 RB Christian Okoye 2010 S Eric Berry
1988 RB James Saxon 2011 OLB Justin Houston
1989 LB Derrick Thomas


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