Injuries led to Nick Fairley‘s rookie season being mostly a disappointment. It wasn’t that he wasn’t effective when he played, it is just that he wasn’t able to play as much as anyone would have liked. Whether it was being sidelined by injury or just playing limited snaps due to being behind his teammates that hadn’t missed so much time, Fairley never got it together for more than a series in 2011.
Fairley took a big step forward in 2012 as it seemed that his effectiveness increased as his playing time increased. He got a chance to move into the starting lineup with Corey Williams battling a knee injury and his season seemed to take off from there.
Fairley and Ndamukong Suh formed the kind of fierce duo the team and fans had in mind when Fairley’s name was announced from the NFL Draft podium in April 2011.
Fairley had his season cut short due to a shoulder injury but his 5.5 sacks was still good enough for third-best on the team. He also tied for the team lead in forced fumbles with two.
The award is given annually in memory of former Lions wide receiver Chuck Hughes who remains the only NFL player to ever die on the field. Hughes suffered a heart attack during a Lions game against the Bears on October 24, 1971.