INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 20: Sam Darnold #14 of the New York Jets looks on after defeating the Los Angeles Rams 23-20 in a game at SoFi Stadium on December 20, 2020 in Inglewood, California.
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

New York Jets quarterback Sam Darnold won the 2020 Gerald Eskenazi “Good Guy” award as voted on by the media.

Robby Sabo

Say he’s inaccurate. Claim he’s hesitant. Tell the world he’s not worthy of the No. 3 draft pick Mike Maccagnan used on him a couple of drafts ago. What happens between the boundaries is fair game.

Just don’t dare accuse Sam Darnold of taking a misstep off the field.

On Thursday, the New York Jets‘ third-year quarterback was named the Gerald Eskenazi “Good Guy” for the 2020 season.

Prior to Thursday’s regularly-scheduled Zoom festivities, ESPN’s Rich Cimini presented Darnold with the award—something he does each season at some point during Week 17 preparation. It’s presented to the most media-friendly player or coach for that season.

The award was created by the Jets chapter of the PFWA in honor of New York Times‘ veteran Gerald Eskenazi. The long-time Jets beat writer—who still contributes from time to time—didn’t allow the craziness of 2020 to stand in his way. As usual, Eskenazi made sure to be present (virtually) while Cimini presented the award.

Darnold has been nothing but tremendous when dealing with the media. He always comes to the mic with a friendly disposition, and he never gives away anything he shouldn’t. He’s nearly Derek Jeter-esque in the way he handles the New York media.

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Despite a tough season that’s seen him throw for just 1,942 yards and eight touchdowns to nine interceptions, Darnold believes his best days are ahead.

“I absolutely believe my best days are ahead,” Darnold said Thursday afternoon after accepting the award on Zoom. “I’m just going to continue to work, and as I said, put that work in to be able to get better and improve every single year.”

Jordan Jenkins took home the award last season. Eskenazi was right there in the Jets locker room when it was presented (as he usually is). Other recipients include Jermaine Kearse, Josh McCown, Brandon Marshall, Darrelle Revis and Rex Ryan.

Beat veterans such as the aforementioned Cimini and the New York Post’s Brian Costello usually lead the charge. The AP’s Dennis Waszak Jr., The Record’s Andy Vasquez, The Athletic’s Connor Hughes, Newsday’s Al Iannazzone and more help determine the winner on a yearly basis.

Through it all in 2020, Sam Darnold has remained the classy quarterback.

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Robby Sabo is a co-founder, developer and credentialed New York Jets content creator for Jets X-Factor | Jet X, which includes Sabo's Sessions (in-depth film breakdowns) and Sabo with the Jets. Host: Underdog Jets Podcast with Wayne Chrebet and Sabo Radio. Member: Pro Football Writers of America. Coach: Port Jervis (NY) High School. Washed up strong safety and 400M runner. Founder: Elite Sports NY - ESNY (sold in 2020). SEO: XLM Email: robby.sabo[at]
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