(In keeping with tradition, we’ll save the What to Know After post for Tuesday. We’ll recap the game and cry bittersweet tears for the final showdown of the season. Today, instead of a What Just Happened post, we’re going to talk about another thing that happened this weekend – the NFL Honors show.)
In only it’s second year, the NFL Honors show has already become a staple, and an apt lead-in to Super Bowl Sunday. What better way to wrap up the season and create anticipation for the big day up ahead? It’d be nice if sports writers could stop being sports writers for a day and not leak the results early and have them running along the bottom line on ESPN and NFL Network so that everyone knows what happens before it happens (sports writers for the Olympics: I’m looking at you, too). But even so, it’s such a great show and I’m really hoping it becomes a yearly tradition for a long time to come.
I’ll probably only rewatch it 87 times while mourning the end of the season this week.
Here are the results from the AP voted categories:
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Robert Griffin III, Washington Redskins
If you take your team from a 3-6 start and end up in the playoffs, playing on one leg, in your first year in the NFL, you’ve more than earned Rookie of the Year honors. I’m not surprised that RG3 won, but I am a little surprised that it wasn’t closer. He received 29 of the 50 votes! Andrew Luck was a distant second with 11 votes, and Russell Wilson a surprisingly close third with 10 votes. It was a well-deserved win for Griffin, who also had one of the winning lines from the show: “It’s truly a blessing to be up here…and to be able to stand, first and foremost.” Great to see him up on two feet again.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Luke Kuechly, Carolina Panthers
I have to admit: I didn’t know much about Luke Kuechly before he won this award! I don’t follow the Panthers all that closely and I thought the Seahawks’ Bobby Wagner would win, but congratulations all the same to Luke! It’s great to see the Panthers bringing in new talent.
Offensive Player of the Year: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Ultimately AP earned 30.5 of the 50 votes and Peyton received 19.5, and I think that’s how it should have been. Peyton had a remarkable year, but if the definition of Offensive Player of the Year is the player who contributed the most to the offensive production, the award had to go to Peterson.
Defensive Player of the Year: J.J. Watt, Houston Texans
Complete no-brainer on this one: Watt received 49 out of the 50 total votes (with one person voting for Von Miller, who would have been a great candidate had J.J. not had the season of a lifetime). Watt was beyond dominant on the defense, and so integral to his teams success that he would have been a viable MVP candidate if not for Peyton and AP.
Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, Denver Broncos
I think Peyton is the classiest guy in the NFL. His acceptance speech is well worth watching, and the award was so well deserved. The Broncos didn’t get as far along as they could have this year, but he’s made such a remarkable comeback that he’s put the Broncos in position to make a playoff run every year for the foreseeable future. It’s just good for football to have Peyton back again. I hope we get to keep watching him play for a long, long time.
Coach of the Year: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts (Interim)
Peyton’s speech was awesome, but the speech of the night goes to BA, hands down. He was eloquent, humble, and a great reflection of everything a leader should be. It’s no wonder he had no problem taking over as interim head coach for Chuck Pagano, leading the young Colts to a 9-3 record along the way.
Most Valuable Player: Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
Last season, the Vikings were a 3-13 team. This year, they went 10-6 and made it into the first round of the playoffs. Now, this was far from an individual accomplishment – that would be taking too much away from the coaches and the rest of the team. But there’s no way the Vikings would have had the season that they had if not for Adrian Peterson. It wasn’t just that he was the entire offense (really…he was); it was that his comeback, just months removed from tearing both his ACL and MCL, was so unbelievable that it lifted the entire organization. It seemed like if he could come back like THAT, then everyone else could do their jobs to the best of their ability, too.
Non-AP Awards and Moments Worth Noting:
Never Say Never Moment of the Year: Torrey Smith, Baltimore Ravens
I can’t imagine anyone else winning this award. Torrey Smith had one of the best games of his career just hours after losing his younger brother in a fatal motorcycle accident. Since he was preparing to play in the Super Bowl the next day, his mother accepted the award on his behalf. And what strength she displayed! The power of resilience was so evident in her speech.
Walter Payton Man of the Year: Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
Jason Witten, aside from his many other charitable initiatives, also started a foundation that installs strong male mentors into women’s shelters so that families who have had to flee from abusive men can still have a solid male role model in their lives. His own life was positively effected by the presence of his grandfather after his mother moved he and his siblings away from their abusive father. He’s a true success story for mentorship and so deserving of this honor.
And…the Thaw of the Frozen Tundra…the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers Reunion
We could be seeing a new era in Green Bay. One in which former quarterback star Brett Favre, who has not endeared himself to Green Bay since his departure, may be starting to head in the direction of reconciliation. This staged moment between Favre and Rodgers was not nearly as much of a train wreck as it could have been, and I really think it’s a signal of good things to come between the Pack and #4.
On a final note, I think Alec Baldwin should be installed as the permanent host of the NFL Honors. He was even better this year than last year.
Did you guys watch the NFL Honors? Thoughts on the winners – did you agree or disagree?