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Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Byrd not the word after rookie revote


Buffalo Bills safety Jairus Byrd closed the gap, but couldn't overtake Houston Texans linebacker Brian Cushing in the Associated Press' revote for defensive rookie of the year.

Cushing won the first time by a count of 39-6, but the AP asked its panel to vote again after it was revealed Cushing violated the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.

Despite the revelation, Cushing won again, this time by an 18-13 margin.

Green Bay Packers linebacker Clay Matthews received 10 votes. Washington Redskins defensive end Brian Orakpo received three votes and St. Louis Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis got one.

At the end of the season, I thought Cushing deserved the award because he had a monster season: a team-high 133 tackles, four sacks, 13 tackles for losses, 13 quarterback hits, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.

I hoped Byrd would win the revote. He tied for the NFL lead with nine interceptions despite playing through a sports hernia, didn't take over as starting strong safety until Week 4 and missed the final two games because he opted for surgery.

But I can understand how voters would stick with Cushing. The NFL implicitly signed off on Cushing when they allowed him to play the entire season after the violation. It also can be reasoned that although he didn't honestly attain his draft position (15th overall), he compiled his stats while passing tests.

Even so, Byrd deserved the award.