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Dolphins announce team awards for 2021 season: Jaylen Waddle named team MVP

NFL: New York Giants at Miami Dolphins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins’ 2021 season is winding down, with one game remaining on the regular-season schedule before heading into the offseason and beginning preparations for the 2022 season. The Dolphins on Thursday announced the winners of their team awards, with rookies showing up strong in the list.

Wide receiver Jaylen Waddle took home the Dan Marino Most Valuable Player award, becoming the fifth rookie in team history to win the away, joining linebacker and Hall of Fame finalist Zach Thomas (1996), quarterback and Hall of Fame inductee Dan Marino (1983), quarterback David Woodley (1980), and quarterback and Hall of Fame inductee Bob Griese (1967). Waddle is also the fifth wide receiver to win the award, and just the third to win it outright. He joins Jarvis Landry (2015, co-winner), Chris Chambers (2005), O.J. McDuffie (1997 and 1998), and Paul Warfield (1970, co-winner). Waddle is in position to set the league record for receptions by a rookie this week when the Dolphins host the New England Patriots. Already holding the team records for rookie receptions and yardage, Waddle has made 99 catches for 988 yards this season, two receptions shy of Anquan Boldin’s 2003 record of 101 receptions.

The Dan Marino MVP award is voted upon by the South Florida media. It was renamed in honor of Marino in 2000 following his retirement. Marino won the award 12 times in his 17-year career.

The team also announced defensive back Jason McCourty as the Don Shula Leadership Award winner, linebacker Elandon Roberts as the team’s Ed Block Courage Award winner, and linebacker Jaelan Phillips as the Nat Moore Community Service Award winner.

McCourty became the seventh player to win the Don Shula Leadership Award in his first season with the team, joining Ryan Fitzpatrick (2019), Frank Gore (2018), Karlos Dansby (2010), Chad Pennington (2008), Junior Seau (2003), and Fred Barnett (1996). He is just the second defensive back to win the award, joining safety Yeremiah Bell who was a co-winner in 2009. McCourty is a finalist for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award this season as well.

The Don Shula Leadership Award is voted upon by the players on the team. It was renamed in head coach Don Shula’s name in 2005. Shula, a Hall of Fame inductee, has the most regular-season victories as a head coach with 328 and the most combined regular-season and postseason victories in league history at 347.

Roberts is a first-time recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award, reflecting his professionalism, strength, and dedication, as well as his being a community role model. Roberts sustained a season-ending knee injury in 2020’s Week 16, undergoing surgery in January 2021. He rehabbed and worked to ensure he was ready for Week 1 this season and has a career-high 79 tackles with a game to play. He recorded his first career interception in Week 3, returning it 85 yards for a touchdown, at the Las Vegas Raiders’ Allegiant Stadium - the site of his knee injury the season before. He has been named a captain in both of his two seasons with the Dolphins.

The Ed Block Courage Award is an NFL award presented to one player from each team. The Dolphins’ athletic training staff selects the team’s winner. The award is named after Ed Block, who served as an Army officer in World War II before becoming the head athletic trainer for the Baltimore Colts from 1954-1977. He also served as a physical therapist at a Baltimore children's hospital.

Phillips is the first rookie to win the team’s Nat Moore Community Service Award. He has consistently donated time and services to multiple charitable activities throughout the year, volunteering on a near-weekly basis to provide assistance. He has assisted with relief for the residents impacted by the Surfside condo collapse and the Haiti earthquake relief efforts. He has been actively involved with the Lotus House, improving the lives of homeless women and children in the Miami area. He is also a part of the Dolphins’ Social Impact Committee, working to positively impact civic engagement, education, and economic empowerment in South Florida, and has participated in multiple food and gift distributions throughout November and December.

The Nat Moore Community Service Award is given each year to a player recognized for his involvement in the South Florida community. The award is named in honor of Dolphins wide receiver Nat Moore, who played for the team from 1974 through 1986. Moore was placed in the Dolphins Honor Roll in 1999.