The Mike Utley Award is presented to the player who exhibited tremendous spirit, desire, dedication and work ethic.
This award is given in honor of former Lions guard Mike Utley, who suffered a career-ending neck injury which left him paralyzed on Nov. 17, 1991; Minutes after sustaining the injury, Utley flashed his teammates a "thumbs up" sign as he was wheeled from the field, a gesture that galvanized a team that went on to win its next seven contests and advanced to the NFC Championship game.
This year's Mike Utley Spirit Award, as voted by the players, goes to veteran defensive end
- Tapp tied with Chris Long and Kerry Win as the only NFL 4-3 DEs to play at least 400 snaps without being flagged for a penalty according to Pro Football Focus.
- He was credited with two sacks, 4 QB hits and 9 QB hurries by PFF.
- Tapp is know as a 'force multiplier' as head coach Jim Caldwell explained in a press conference this past season:
- "He's a very, very authentic person, and you need guys like him. Matter of fact, before he came in, (D-line coach) Jim Washburn said to us, 'Hey, if we sign this guy, let me just tell you something. This guy is a force multiplier.' Nobody quite knew exactly what he meant. Certainly we understand the term, but it came to fruition when he walked into the building."