|RB Rock Cartwright receives his second-straight Commitment to Excellence Award. Photo by Tony Gonzales|
Raiders RB Rock Cartwright received his second-straight Commitment to Excellence (CTE) Award at the 10th Annual CTE Award dinner held at the Hilton Oakland Airport and hosted by the* *Steering Committee for the Booster Clubs of The Oakland Raiders. General Manager Reggie McKenzie, Head Coach Dennis Allen, Chief Executive Amy Trask, Hall of Famers Jim Otto and Willie Brown, and past CTE Award winners Tim Brown and Barry Sims were on hand to support Cartwright as he accepted the award voted on by his teammates. Proceeds from the event, including a silent and live auction, will be donated to Cartwright's charity of choice - the OWIN Foundation.
JT the Brick, the emcee for the evening, defined to the dinner guests what the CTE Award represents. "It's about a player that shows up every day. He shows up to work; he has a passion for life; he has a passion for his teammates and he never gives up," said JT. "You never have to lead the team in receptions, you don't have to lead the team in tackles, you just have to be a Raider 24/7. Tonight, with Rock winning this award, I'd like to mention that he is the only individual in the history of this award to win the award back-to-back."
The Raiders GM and head coach attended the event to not only support Cartwright, but to emphasize the importance of Commitment to Excellence. "When you talk about Commitment to Excellence, it's what Al Davis was all about," said McKenzie. "When you talk about all the characteristics that go into this award and how it's voted upon, being in the community, being a leader on the team, and being the type of tough, hardworking player, all of that plays into it, that's what I want for this team. I want this whole team to be worthy of this award."
The feeling was mutual for Coach Allen, who hopes to bring the team back to the Commitment to Excellence of the past. "I think Commitment to Excellence is doing whatever it takes to get the job done," said Coach Allen. "That's what this organization has been about and, at the end of the day, that's what we're trying to make sure we get this organization back to doing."
Hall of Famer Willie Brown has been to many of the CTE Award dinners and expressed the significance of a player winning two years in a row. "Talk about a guy that won it two years in a row – that's tough," said Brown. "It's hard to do. Commitment to Excellence means that you're committed on the field doing your job and taking care of whatever needs to be taken care of and also off the field. It's very important to know that it's not just how well you play or how well you have done in your career, but also your activity off the field."
Cartwright's leadership on and off the field have earned him the respect of his teammates and coaches over the last two years. "I try to be accountable to everybody, my teammates, accountable to the community, to the organization, and I think that's what this is about," said Cartwright. "So far I've done it two years, I guess. I'll take it and I'm blessed to be honored in this fashion and it's just a blessing."
McKenzie hopes he can build a team full of players with Cartwright's hard work, determination and leadership. "He exemplifies what we're trying to do here," said McKenzie. "When you're talking about being a high, upstanding-character player, a leader, tough guy, whatever the team needed, he was there for the team. It was all about the team and that's the one point I want to make to, not only the booster clubs and the support here, but even throughout all the fans of Raider Nation, it's all about the team. And everybody has to play a part."
Ten years ago, Tim Brown was presented with the first-ever CTE Award and he returned Saturday evening to present Cartwright with the honor. "Obviously, this award is very special because the team votes for it," said T. Brown. "Any time your teammates say you are the player who is the leader of the team, that's a very special thing and for that to happen twice back-to-back, is an incredible thing. He's the real deal and I think because of that he's getting this award for the second time in a row."
Cartwright was humbled to receive the award for a second time. "From the bottom of my heart, just getting this award for the second time is a great honor," said Cartwright during his acceptance speech. "Being here is a great honor. Getting the opportunity to play football is a great honor. Just the opportunity that Mr. Davis gave me two years ago when nobody else gave me the opportunity was special to me. I'm always a firm believer that what you put in something is what you get out of it. I've put everything I got in the Raider Nation. I put everything I got for my teammates. I put everything I got in my coaches. That's all I know. Being accountable is all I know so as long as we hold each other accountable, the organization, the community, just in general, as long as we hold each other accountable, we're going to get to where we want to be. I thank you guys for having me; it's a great honor."