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New York Awards 2002

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Herman Edwards, Sports

Herman Edwards has broken barriers—when the Jets hired him as head coach two years ago, he became the first black man to command a New York pro-football team—and he’s scaled them: In September, when his computer code failed to open the gate at the Jets’ offices, Edwards climbed an eight-foot fence and squeezed between coils of barbed wire. It was 4:30 a.m., and, as usual, Edwards was the first person at work. Jets fans love the 48-year-old coach for his dedication, but his real breakthrough this season was about inspiration. With the team 2-5 and bickering, a reporter asked if Edwards was worried that the Jets might quit. The coach’s body shook, his eyes teared, and his passionate, blistering answer invoked the memory of his late father, a former Army sergeant. The outburst put the fire back in the Jets. Herman Edwards already has the second-best winning percentage in Jets history. This season has shown that Edwards has what it takes to become the franchise’s second Super Bowl–winning coach. -- CHRIS SMITH


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