Last night the NFL handed out their season awards as well as announced the 2016 Hall of Fame class. So let’s jump right in:
Jameis Winston was chosen by the fans as the Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year after setting franchise records in passing yards (4,042) and touchdowns (22) for rookies. Despite winning the award, Winston was never really all that loud on the radar screen, most likely because he plays for the Buccaneers.
He did have a great year after being picked first overall in the draft but wasn’t allowed to make a lot of noise because his team finished 6-10 in the basement of the NFC South that was dominated by MVP Cam Newton, who will be highlighted soon.
With the young talent in Tampa Bay, Winston should be set for another big year next year and we can only hope that he doesn’t get bogged down by being a great player on a subpar team.
The Associated Press (AP) chose Rams running back Todd Gurley as their offensive Rookie of the Year after eclipsing 1,000 yards in only 13 games. He finished with 1,106 on 229 attempts, giving him an average of 4.8 yards per carry. On top of that he scored ten times on the ground and caught for 188 yards on 21 receptions.
Another great player who could be potentially be bogged down by being on a poor team, hopefully a change of scenery and maybe a new quarterback may help him break out even more.
He also competed against the Rookie of the Year Winston in a color rush game on December 17th, giving us the match-up of Ketchup vs Mustard and two top-tier rookies duking it out.
In another AP vote, Cam Newton was chosen as the Offensive Player of the Year on top of his MVP award, both of which will be touched upon later.
His head coach Ron Rivera was chosen, again by the AP, as the Coach of the Year; guiding his Panthers to a 17-1 record and their second overall Super Bowl berth and first since 2003. Hopefully, he will be able to put the icing on the cake and get the Panthers their first Super Bowl victory later on tonight.
Wade Philips will be on the opposite sideline from Rivera and he was chosen as the AP Assistant Coach of the Year for coaching the Denver Broncos to the best defense in the league in 2015. Everyone knows that the Broncos didn’t exactly look like the best in football when the Patriots came to town, but that’s a little different story.
Staying on the defensive side of the football, JJ Watt was selected by the AP as the Defensive Player of the Year. Watt led the league with 17.5 sacks and finished with 57 total tackles. We all know that Watt is kind of a douche off the field, bragging about everything he does, but his acceptance speech was something that I kind of admire.
I really like that little jab at the end to all of those who doubted him and ranked him as a two-star recruit out of high school. He proved everyone wrong and walked-on to the Wisconsin football team and carved his path to becoming one of the best players in the league.
He is an insane athlete and nobody can take that away from him and it is extremely entertaining to watch him play as well. I always love to see guys who have a chip on their shoulder go out and prove everyone wrong and make their dreams reality. Maybe I just relate to them a little better, who knows?
He joins elusive company with Lawrence Taylor as the only players to win this award three times over.
Anquan Boldin was chosen by the Payton family to be the Walter Payton Man of the Year in one of the most special honors in the sport. Boldin is the first 49er to receive the award and since 2004 has expanded the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged children with his Q81 Foundation.
As Troy Aikman introduced him, he joins an exclusive fraternity of men who have achieved this honor and will continue to be a model NFL player.
As rightfully deserved, Eric Berry was announced as the AP Comeback Player of the Year after missing most of the 2014 season with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Berry absolutely earned every second of the standing ovations, every tip of the cap and pat on the ass for beating cancer and returning to his true form in being one of the great Ball-Hawks in the league.
Berry finished the season with 55 tackles, two interceptions and millions of tears rolling down men’s faces watching him beat the odds and continue living the dream of being an NFL player.
He was introduced by Leah Still, who also beat cancer in the limelight as her father played every Sunday for the Cincinnati Bengals. The entire introduction, highlights and acceptance speech continued to send chills through my body and shamelessly brought tears to the forefronts of my eyes.
You can take a look for yourself here
Finally, Cam Newton ran away with the MVP voting, receiving 48 out of 50 votes over Tom Brady and Carson Palmer split the other two votes. Cam Newton took the NFL by storm this year, leading his Panthers to an almost perfect season throwing for 3,837 yards, 35 touchdown while running for another 636 yards and 10 touchdowns, dabbing along the way.
We have heard the noise all year long about his celebrations and if they were too much or not. You all know it and I won’t spit it back at you again. However, I will tell you that I kind of like it.
Maybe not to the extent he took it to against the Titans, but I do love the exuding confidence beaming from this kid.
After that score and dance, he said, “If you don’t want me to do it, don’t let me in [the end zone].” I love it. I love the big smile that nobody can wipe off of his face because he is doing exactly what he wants to be doing in life. And he’s doing it well. He was voted as the AP Offensive Player of the Year, as earlier mentioned, on top of the MVP honors.
People just don’t like winners apparently, but keep doing you Cam, keep dabbin’ on ‘em and let’s hope they can walk over Peyton and take the Lombardi Trophy back to Carolina.
Last but certainly not least, the 2016 Hall of Fame class was announced, and was highlighted by The Gunslinger, Brett Favre. He is joined by Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel to be enshrined in Canton for the rest of time.
I personally know more about Favre, Dungy and Harrison because I grew up rooting against them, however, as I’ve grown, I’ve learned to respect them and realize it was an honor to see them play.
Congratulations to the entire 2016 class of Award winners and Hall of Famers.
For a complete list of all awards and links to respected acceptances, you can take a look right here.