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Niners' Willis wins Butkus Award

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By PFW staff

Niners MLB Patrick Willis has been announced as the winner of the second-ever Butkus Award honoring a professional linebacker. The award was presented by Pro Football Hall of Fame legend and the award’s namesake, Dick Butkus, and his son, Matt.

The 6-1, 240-pound Willis received 12 first-place votes and a total of 50 points. He is the first player to win the Butkus Award in two categories, having also won the 2006 Collegiate Butkus Award while playing at the University of Mississippi. Willis finished the 2009 NFL season with 154 tackles, four sacks, three forced fumbles and three interceptions.

Willis edged the 2008 professional Butkus Award winner, Cowboys OLB DeMarcus Ware, who finished with 39 points (six first-place votes). NFL rookie and first-round draft pick Brian Cushing of the Texans finished third with 12 points, followed by Ray Lewis of the Ravens (nine points) and three players tied for fifth place — Karlos Dansby, who recently signed with the Dolphins; Shaun Phillips of the Chargers; and Elvis Dumervil of the Broncos.

“What clinched the Butkus Award for Willis was his ability to do it all as the most complete three-down linebacker in professional football,” said Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly, who coordinates the 51-person panel of selectors.  “Other traits noted by selectors were his non-stop motor and through-the-roof athletic ability.”


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