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Minnesota Vikings 2011 Defensive Player of the Year

It's safe to say that this season for the Minnesota Vikings was quite a train wreck, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Whether the Vikings' defense was letting quarterbacks pick them apart through the air or giving up big chunks of yards on the ground when they desperately needed a stop, something was always going in their opponent's favor.

Despite the Vikings' constant defensive struggles, there was one player who overcame the adversity and asserted himself as the leader of the defense. Although this player has spent several years with the Vikings and has proven himself as a reliable playmaker for the purple and gold, he made his presence felt more than ever in 2011.

The Vikings 2011 Defensive Player or the Year Award goes to outside linebacker Chad Greenway.

After getting off to a slow start in 2011, Greenway picked up the pace after the Vikings' 39-10 loss to the Chicago Bears in Week 7 and never looked back. Game in and game out, Greenway punished ball carriers who dared run against him, helping the Vikings to finish the season with the 11th ranked rushing defense.

Greenway finished the 2011 season with 152 total tackles, two sacks and two defended passes. His 152 tackles broke his personal best of 144 tackles in a season, which he set in 2010. He finished the season with the third-highest total tackle count of any player in the NFL, trailing only London Fletcher (166) and D'Qwell Jackson (158).

As a result of his outstanding performance this season with the Vikings, Greenway was named as an alternate to the NFC Pro Bowl roster behind fellow linebackers DeMarcus Ware, Clay Matthews and Lance Briggs.

At the end of the year, Greenway was also honored with the Vikings' 2011 Community Man of the Year Award for his exceptional dedication to lending a hand throughout the Minneapolis community, including the continued excellence of the Lead The Way Foundation.

Through countless struggles, Greenway continues to personify the spirit and tenacity that comes with being a Viking. Regardless of the record, you can always rely on Greenway to play his heart out every Sunday.

For those of you wondering why Allen didn't get this award: I thought MVP might be a little more fitting.

Gil Alcaraz IV is a life-long follower of the Minnesota Vikings and the founder of TheVikingDen.com. For more Vikings/NFL coverage, follow him on Twitter or "like" The Viking Den on Facebook.