By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America named nose tackle Casey Hampton and offensive tackle Mike Adams its annual award-winners Thursday afternoon.
Hampton was the recipient of the Chief Award, established in honor of Steelers’ founder, Arthur J. Rooney, Sr., and presented annually to the member of the organization who best exemplifies the spirit of cooperation with the media.
“I appreciate this award, and I appreciate you guys voting for me,” Hampton said. “Definitely, it’s an honor to win an award named after the founder of this organization. … It’s definitely been tough (to stand up and talk), and it definitely wasn’t the result that we wanted this year.
“When you’ve been in this business for as long as I’ve been around, nothing really surprises me anymore, but you just have to take the good with the bad, continue to be professional about it and keep on working. So, that’s just where we are at this point.”
Hampton, in his 12th season with the Steelers, has started 163 career games at nose tackle, including all 15 this year. He has 401 career tackles with 9.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. Hampton, a three-time Pro Bowl pick, started for the Steelers in three Super Bowls (XL, XLIII and XLV) and was named to the club’s 75th Season All-Time Team in 2007.
“I don’t always say something, but when I do the guys usually listen to me,” Hampton said. “But I usually don’t say anything unless it’s really needed. And when I need to say something, I will do that.”
Adams, a second round draft pick this year, received the Joe Greene Great Performance Award that is presented to the outstanding rookie. Adams started six of the 10 games he played this year, but has missed the past four games with a left ankle injury.
“Injuries are a part of football,” Adams said. “That stuff happens, but you have to roll with the punches and keep getting better. I definitely would have loved to be out there more and not gotten hurt, but I’m thankful for the chance I got. (And) I think we’ve got a lot of young guys and a lot of potential, so I think with hard work and dedication we’ve got a chance to be really good.”
Adams is the third straight offensive lineman to get this award, including center Maurkice Pouncey in 2010 and Marcus Gilbert last year.
“It’s a very high-class room with very high-character individuals,” veteran offensive tackle Max Starks said. “With guys like Mike, Marcus and Pounce as the last three winners, it’s a great honor for all of us. And Mike deserved it. He did a great job before he got injured, and it would have been nice to see us all playing together without anybody getting hurt.
“(But) those things happen. Mike and Marcus have a bright future here, and Kelvin Beachum, too. As far as my future goes, I learned long ago not to worry about it too much. I know that I still have the ability to play. I’ve proven that, coming back from knee surgery, and God has an ultimate plan for everybody anyway. So, who knows where that path is going to lead.”
James Farrior was the Chief Award winner last year, while Mike Wallace received the Joe Greene Award in 2009 before the string of O-linemen.