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Nick Fairley, born on January 23, 1988, in Mobile, Alabama, was a dominant defensive tackle at Auburn University and a force to be reckoned with in the NFL. Fairley's football journey began at Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where he showcased his skills and recorded impressive numbers, including 63 tackles and seven sacks in the 2008 season. He later transferred to Auburn University, where he played for the Auburn Tigers football team in 2009 and 2010. In 2010, Fairley made history by becoming the second player from Auburn to win the prestigious Lombardi Award, a testament to his exceptional performance on the field.

During the 2011 BCS National Championship Game against the Oregon Ducks, Fairley proved his worth by contributing five tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. His standout performance earned him the title of defensive player of the game. Following his successful college career, Fairley entered the 2011 NFL Draft and was selected by the Detroit Lions as the 13th overall pick. He joined the Lions' defensive line alongside All-Pro Ndamukong Suh. Recording 5.5 sacks and 26 tackles in his second season.

After his tenure with the Lions, Fairley played for the St. Louis Rams and the New Orleans Saints. During his time with the Saints, Fairley truly showcased his skills, posting career-high numbers in tackles and sacks. However, his football career was cut short due to a heart condition diagnosed during the 2011 NFL Combine. The Saints placed him on the reserve/non-football-illness list in 2017 and released him in 2018.

Despite his early retirement, Fairley's impact on the field was undeniable. He received numerous accolades throughout his career, including being named a Consensus All-American, SEC Defensive Player of the Year, and winner of the Lombardi Award. Fairley's physical presence and dominant performances made him a feared player in the NFL, and it's unfortunate that his career was cut short by health issues. Although he faced some off-field challenges, including legal troubles, Fairley's contributions to the game of football will always be remembered.

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NICK FAIRLEY

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We’re always happy to pay tribute to the giants of the past whose shoulders we proudly stand on. With a tradition of recognizing and honoring the accomplishments of the brightest and best from our industry, we are happy to present the past winners below. If you’d like more information, feel free to get in touch.

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