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Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Hit the polls for the NFC South

By Pat Yasinskas
ESPN.com

In the NFC South, a lot of us tend to have a bit of an inferiority complex. There’s a sense that big-market teams get more attention.

Well, here’s a chance for you to counter that.

The NFL Players Association has opened balloting for its PULSE awards and there is a very strong NFC South candidate in each of the four categories. In one of those categories, there are two very strong NFC South candidates.

Carolina rookie quarterback Cam Newton is on the ballot for Emerging Player, which is defined as a “rising star showing performance, character and maturity."

In the Heart of the Game category, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is a candidate. This award is supposed to honor a player for “determination, enthusiasm and passion for the game."

Carolina receiver Steve Smith is up for Comeback Player -- “celebrating a player who has overcome obstacles with exceptional performance."

Finally, there is the Endurance award, which is designed to reward a player for a career “distinguished by longevity, durability and consistency." That’s the one where the NFC South has two excellent candidates. Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber and Atlanta tight end Tony Gonzalez are on the ballot.