We asked our panel of experts and insiders to select their choices for various awards for the 2017 season. We will reveal their answers over the coming days.
Next up, a look at who is the 2017 Chargers Most Inspirational Player:
Ricky Henne – Keenan Allen
From missing 23.5 games over a season and a half to authoring the single greatest season for a wideout in Chargers history, Keenan Allen gets my full endorsement as the team's most inspirational player. Heck, I can't help but be inspired by the way he went from being written off as an afterthought in league circles to becoming a Pro Bowler in his return. More importantly, his teammates in the locker room are equally inspired by what he did to make it back to elite form. Jason Verrett is in similar shoes to what Allen went through, looking to come back after missing virtually all of two seasons, and says he looks toward KA13 as motivation.
Hayley Elwood – Casey Hayward
To me, Casey Hayward earns this honor in two ways. For starters, although he's only been a Charger for two seasons, Hayward is the vested veteran in the defensive backs room. His high-level and style of play is inspiring to some of the younger DBs. And second, through everything he's endured off the field over the past 18 months, Hayward has never wavered. His ability to compartmentalize the tragedy he's experienced and turn that into two-straight Pro Bowl and Second Team All-Pro seasons is inspiring, even to those of us who don't lace up on Sundays.
Matt "Money" Smith – Joey Bosa
Might seem odd, but having a chance to see how seriously Bosa takes the game, his job and wanting to win every snap is inspiring. He's constantly consuming football, be it film, coaching, or other player input; he's almost on a quest to becoming football omnipotent. You get the sense there is no stone unturned and no path ignored when it comes to Bosa amassing a file on each opponent. You add his relentlessness on each and every snap, and how could you not want to play to your fullest after watching him ply his trade?
Nick Hardwick – Melvin Ingram
I have to admit. I was wrong about Melvin. I thought he was going to get paid and shut down. His intensity throughout the season was voracious and infectious. He makes guys around him better. It won't be deniable in 2018. He will make the Pro Bowl.
Chris Hayre – Antonio Gates
Gates started the season by breaking the all-time touchdown record by a tight end. He closed it with two touchdowns in the final three games, ensuring the team didn't miss a beat with Hunter Henry sidelined. How can you not be inspired by one of the all-time greats, and a surefire Hall of Famer?