Super Bowl 53 brought another Vince Lombardi Trophy to the New England Patriots, and the Most Valuable Player award to wide receiver Julian Edelman for his 10-catch, 141-yard performance against the Los Angeles Rams. However, another player also was recently awarded for his play in the Patriots’ 13-3 victory over the NFC Champions: defensive tackle Danny Shelton is the latest recipient of the NFL’s Way to Play Award.
The award honors players who positively impact games through using proper technique when it comes to tackling, blocking, footwork or just general discipline or vision. Four former NFL players — ex-Patriot Willie McGinest, Hall of Famers Ronnie Lott and Orlando Pace, and Merril Hoge — pick a recipient each week based on those principles. The winner receives a $2,500 equipment grant for a youth or high school program of his choice.
This week, it is Shelton after his performance against the Rams’ ground game. The 25-year old, who will hit free agency next month after the Patriots did not pick up his rookie contract’s fifth-year option, was entering the Super Bowl on the heels of an up-and-down season. However, he looked solid against Los Angeles in his 16 defensive snaps and registered two tackles, one of which for a loss of yardage.
This tackle in particular was the reason for Shelton winning the award as the first Patriot do so: he burst through the line with a perfectly executed swim move, and was able to take down running back C.J. Anderson three yards before he even reached the line of scrimmage. And while it remains to be seen whether or not Shelton ultimately returns to New England, he certainly is entering free agency on a comparatively high note.