That blur speeding away from opposing defenses and running off with The Associated Press 2009 NFL Offensive Player of the Year award is Tennessee's Chris Johnson.
Considered the fastest man in pro football, Johnson was uncatchable in setting a league mark for yards from scrimmage (2,509) and becoming the sixth player with a 2,000-yard rushing season (2,006).
He is the first NFL player to finish with at least 2,000 yards rushing and 500 receiving.
That earned the second-year pro 381/2 votes Wednesday from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL. Johnson easily beat New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees, who received nine votes.
“I kind of realize what I did, and I feel like I had a dream season,” said Johnson, who scored 16 touchdowns (14 rushing), second to Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, and tied the NFL mark with six consecutive games rushing for at least 125 yards.
Johnson, who has run a 4.2 40 and is believed to be the league’s fastest player, has bigger dreams, too: breaking Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards and winning the league MVP award.
“I didn’t even get one vote at all (for MVP),” Johnson said. “Like the season I had, it seemed like, ‘What more do they want me to do?’ That just felt like Rookie of the Year; it’s a quarterback thing I guess.”
Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan beat out Johnson for 2008 Offensive Rookie of the Year.
If Johnson keeps posting phenomenal numbers, it’s likely all kinds of honors and records will keep coming.
“That gives me something to look forward to next year,” he said before focusing on Dickerson’s mark. “You go for 2,000 yards. I don’t know what you can really say that makes you want to work harder or anything like that, so it’s kind of a good thing and a bad thing me not getting the record.”
Johnson became the first player to run for three TDs of 85 yards or longer in a season; no NFL player had even done that in a career. He’ll start next season with a streak of 11 100-yard rushing games; Barry Sanders holds the record with 14 in 1997.
Johnson is the first Titan to win the honor, but the third player in franchise history. Quarterback Warren Moon won in 1990 as a Houston Oiler, and Earl Campbell took three straight awards from 1978-80 with the Oilers.
Seau calls it quits, again
Junior Seau, a 12-time Pro Bowl linebacker who returned to the New England Patriots this season, said that he has played his last game.
Seau first retired in August 2006 after 13 seasons with San Diego and three with Miami. But he signed with the Patriots four days later and played 27 games for them over two seasons. He retired again after the 2007 season, then came out of retirement for the final four games in 2008 before retiring after that season.
Seau played seven regular-season games this season, all as a backup, and made 15 tackles.
Washington offensive line coach Joe Bugel, architect of the Redskins’ famed “Hogs” of the 1980s, stepped down after more than three decades in the NFL. Washington won two Super Bowls while Bugel was with the team. … ESPN.com, citing anonymous sources, reported that New York Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has told the Buffalo Bills he does not want to talk to them about their vacant head coaching job. … Ailing Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Anquan Boldin (ankle, knee) and inside linebacker Gerald Hayes (ankle) did not practice. Coach Ken Whisenhunt says both players are getting better, but both are likely to be a “game-day decision.” Boldin was inactive for the Cardinals’ win over Green Bay.