American Football Database
See also: United Media#NFL awards

Beginning in 1966 the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) annually awarded the George S. Halas Trophy to the NFL's outstanding defensive player. (The George S. Halas Trophy should not be confused with the Pro Football Writers Association's George S. Halas Courage Award or the National Football League's George Halas Trophy that is awarded to the NFC champion.) The winner was released via the NEA news service and also appeared in the World Almanac, which was an NEA publication. The award ran though 1996. It was considered one of the major awards and as included in the NFL Record and Fact Book and its winners still appear in the NFL's Official Encyclopedia, Total Football II. In his book, A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football, sportwriter Paul Zimmerman touted the NEA for its All-Pro team and its awards, since they involved polling the players, rather than being a sportswriter's poll like the AP, UPI, and the PFWA.

NEA NFL Defensive Player of the Year

Winners are awarded George S. Halas Trophy
1966Larry Wilson, S, St. Louis Cardinals
1967Deacon Jones, DE, Los Angeles Rams
1968— Deacon Jones, DE, Los Angeles Rams
1969Dick Butkus, MLB, Chicago Bears
1970— Dick Butkus, MLB, Chicago Bears
1971Carl Eller, DE, Minnesota Vikings
1972Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
1973Alan Page, DT, Minnesota Vikings
1974— Joe Greene, DT, Pittsburgh Steelers
1975Curley Culp, DT, Houston Oilers
1976Jerry Sherk, DT, Cleveland Browns
1977Harvey Martin, DE, Dallas Cowboys
1978Randy Gradishar, ILB, Denver Broncos
1979Lee Roy Selmon, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
1980Lester Hayes, CB, Oakland Raiders
1981Joe Klecko, DE, New York Jets
1982Mark Gastineau, DE, New York Jets
1983Jack Lambert, MLB, Pittsburgh Steelers
1984Mike Haynes, CB, Los Angeles Raiders
1985Howie Long, DE, Los Angeles Raiders/ Andre Tippett, OLB, New England Patriots (tie)
1986Lawrence Taylor, OLB, New York Giants
1987Reggie White, DE, Philadelphia Eagles
1988Mike Singletary, MLB, Chicago Bears
1989Tim Harris, OLB, Green Bay Packers
1990Bruce Smith, DE, Buffalo Bills
1991Pat Swilling, OLB, New Orleans Saints
1992Junior Seau, LB, San Diego Chargers
1993Bruce Smith, DE, Buffalo Bills
1994Deion Sanders, CB, San Francisco 49ers
1995Bryce Paup, OLB, Buffalo Bills
1996Kevin Greene, OLB, Carolina Panthers


The Newspaper Enterprise Association also awarded the Bert Bell Memorial Trophy to the Rookie of the Year and the Jim Thorpe Award to the NFL MVP. The driving force behind these awards was Murray Olderman who began the NEA All-pro team in 1954 and added more awards, including the Third Down Trophy that symbolized each team's MVP.

See also