Eric Berry & Malcolm Jenkins: Class at the Thorpe banquet
Malcolm Jenkins came in late to the Jim Thorpe Award banquet Monday. On purpose. He didn’t want to upstage Eric Berry, the man of the hour and the 2009 Thorpe Award winner. Jenkins, the 2008 Thorpe winner, knocked down a Peyton Manning pass in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. Some 22 hours later, he was at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, to help honor his successor.
That’s class. Honoring the commitment to return to the Thorpe gala, even less than 24 hours after one of the biggest victories in NFL history, the Saints’ 31-17 conquest of the Colts.
But the Thorpe Award generally deals in class. Classy winners. Classy production. Just a good all-around celebration of football, and I’m pleased to have a small part in it every year in presenting The Oklahoman‘s all-state team.
Monday night was a little different, because we had a fresh Super Bowl winner and a new member of the fraternity who received no visible support from his school. No one from Tennessee attended, and while event organizers said the weather prevented Vol athletic director Mike Hamilton from reaching Oklahoma City, I don’t buy it. The airport certainly didn’t close. Monday’s snow fell something short of a storm. No, much more likely is that Tennessee’s coaching upheaval has left the Vols scrambling to find some administrative footing, and an outgoing football player — even one of the greatest in school history — was low on the priority list.
But it remained a quality event. Berry seemed sharp, humble and funny. And big. He’s a big safety. I like big safeties. Looks like he’ll do just fine in the NFL.
Three previous Thorpe winners — Jenkins, Bennie Blades and Antoine Cason — joined Berry on stage, and they had some fun together. When the Thorpe committee presented Berry with a Rolex watch from B.C. Clark Jewelers, Jenkins feigned angst over not receiving one last year. Berry carefully placed the Rolex in his tuxedo pocket and declared that he needed state trooper Stanford McConnell, who annually sings the national anthem at the event, to “come back up here and escort me.” When Berry showed his new boots from Tener’s — “black ostrich, I’ll have to hide ‘em from my dad, he’ll probably hit me up for ‘em” — Blades dramatically complained that the Thorpe’s boots tradition started after he won the award in 1987. Good news: Tener’s sent word that Blades would receive a new pair of boots.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients