Mike Strange: Peyton Manning and Jason Witten prominent on NFL's final weekend, but the guy going out on top is ... Morgan Cox?

Mike Strange
Baltimore Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox is interviewed during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Pat Semansky)

Baltimore Ravens long snapper Morgan Cox is interviewed during media day for the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Pat Semansky)

I can just picture it. It's 2007, a bunch of Tennessee players sitting around the locker room one day after practice. The conversation is how cool it would be to play in the Super Bowl.

Eric Berry chimes in. Jerod Mayo pipes up. Arian Foster (speaking Pterodactyl of course) offers an opinion. Dan Williams and Ramon Foster get their two cents in.

If you'd told them that when Super Bowl XLVII goes down in 2013, the only guy in their locker room who would suit up is Morgan Cox, you would have gotten some quizzical looks.

Morgan Cox? The sophomore from Memphis. Guy who snaps for kicks. A walk-on (until his senior season in 2009).

But that's how it was Sunday night as another NFL season reached a crescendo of Roman numeralized overindulgence in New Orleans and Cox joined the rest of his Baltimore teammates in celebrating a 34-31 Super Bowl win over the San Francisco 49ers.

Cox was the last ex-Vol standing in the 2012 season, snapping for Baltimore kicks. Parys Haralson was on the San Francisco sideline, but inactive and on injured reserve.

Still, a couple of other former Vols were prominent on the season's final weekend.

Peyton Manning and Jason Witten would rather have been playing Sunday, but both received important honors from the league Saturday.

Manning was a candidate for his fifth MVP trophy but instead was named Comeback Player of the Year.

I don't think anyone, including Manning, projected the kind of season he would have in Denver after sitting out the 2011 season.

Witten, meanwhile, received the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award.

Witten was plenty good on the field in his 10th NFL season, but the Payton award recognizes his off-the-field contributions.

The most prominent is the Jason Witten SCORE Foundation, which combats domestic violence.

Witten walks the walk. Last June, I had a chance to visit with him when he was in town to help Derek Dooley cut the ribbon on the Dooley-Witten Learning Center at the Halls/Powell chapter of the Boys & Girls Club.

Good honor for a good guy.

To kill time leading up to the Super Bowl, the NFL observed its anachronistic ritual known as the Pro Bowl last Sunday.

The game is a non-event, but does serve to recognize the players who excelled in 2012.

Tennessee was well represented on the rosters by Manning, Witten, Arian Foster, Mayo, Dustin Colquitt and Berry.

The season officially ended Sunday night. That doesn't mean the gears aren't already cranking on next season.

Cordarrelle Patterson hasn't even been drafted yet, but he's won his first NFL award — some drill at some event in Dallas for draft prospects.

So go ahead and organize your pool. Who will be the Morgan Cox, the last Vol standing, at the next Super Bowl?

Mike Strange may be reached at strangem@knoxnews.com. Follow him at http://twitter.com/strangemike44 and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/strange.

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Comments » 3

PeytonWM18 writes:

Peyton also deserved the AP MVP award, but whenever non-football-playing journalists have a shot at award giving, they seem to get it wrong.

Yes, Peterson deserved the AP Offensive Player of the Year, but in no way should a running back beat out a QB for MVP. The CBS crew, Marino-Sharpe-Boomer-Cowher, all picked Peyton, as did the fans who voted in the ESPN poll.

The Comeback Player of the Year was nice, and another FedEx award made the night go down a bit better, but he true MVP of the league was Peyton Manning, period.

Shannon Sharpe shared two extremely interesting stats comparing Denver from last season to this. The offense was ranked in the mid-20's last year and THIRD this year, but more interesting is the fact that the defense went from the mid-20's to SECOND. Sharpe said Peyton is so valuable that he helps both sides of the ball.

Neither the Viking offense nor the defense improved much from last season to this.

Go figure!

Volunteer-Varmint writes:

Just like the Heisman. Leave it to the media to make this award another useless piece of hardware.

johnlg00 writes:

in response to PeytonWM18:

Peyton also deserved the AP MVP award, but whenever non-football-playing journalists have a shot at award giving, they seem to get it wrong.

Yes, Peterson deserved the AP Offensive Player of the Year, but in no way should a running back beat out a QB for MVP. The CBS crew, Marino-Sharpe-Boomer-Cowher, all picked Peyton, as did the fans who voted in the ESPN poll.

The Comeback Player of the Year was nice, and another FedEx award made the night go down a bit better, but he true MVP of the league was Peyton Manning, period.

Shannon Sharpe shared two extremely interesting stats comparing Denver from last season to this. The offense was ranked in the mid-20's last year and THIRD this year, but more interesting is the fact that the defense went from the mid-20's to SECOND. Sharpe said Peyton is so valuable that he helps both sides of the ball.

Neither the Viking offense nor the defense improved much from last season to this.

Go figure!

Yeah, I think I would have reversed the order of those two awards. The Broncos had the best record in the AFC while the Vikings didn't make the playoffs. Peterson's season was unbelievable without a doubt, but not only was Peyton's return from FOUR neck surgeries and a year off almost unprecedented for a player of his age who had such individual and team success, his stats would have been worthy of MVP consideration in almost any year for almost any player.

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