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NFL Honors 2012-13: List of Nominees, Potential Candidates, Performers and More

Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2013

NFL Honors 2012-13: List of Nominees, Potential Candidates, Performers and More

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    The 2nd Annual NFL Honors ceremony will be held by the league on Saturday, Feb. 2. The award show is a key part of the Super Bowl festivities in New Orleans and will showcase many of the league's top players and former stars.

    Among the awards being handed out are the Associated Press selections for Most Valuable Player, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and the Rookies of the Year on both offense and defense.

    The show will also feature live performances, headlined by OneRepublic, and scheduled appearances by legends. Some of the big names expected to be in attendance include Joe Montana, Barry Sanders, Jim Brown and Jerry Rice.

    Let's take a look at all the important information for the event, a list of people expected to be in attendance and potential candidates for the awards that will get handed out. It's the last stop before Super Bowl Sunday.

Key Information

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    When: Saturday, Feb. 2, at 9 p.m. ET

    Where: Mahalia Jackson Theater in New Orleans, La.

    Watch: CBS

    Host: Alec Baldwin

    More Info: NFL Honors Notes (PDF)

     

    Actor Alec Baldwin returns to host the show for the second straight year. The 30 Rock star will be joined by OneRepublic and house band The Soul Rebels, who are from the host city. The show runs for two hours starting at 9 p.m. ET.

    If football fans want to get the Hollywood feel, they can tune into the red carpet special, which begins at 8 p.m. ET on the NFL Network. The entire event will be filmed ahead of time in New Orleans and then shown on same-day tape delay.

Attendees

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    More than two dozen current players, including several that are strong contenders for the top awards, are expected to be inside the Mahalia Jackson Theater. They will be joined by former players, coaches and other special guests.

    By bringing so many stars together, the NFL is clearly trying to create a mega-event atmosphere to help the show grow. The event is still in its infancy, but should continue to grow if the league keeps making it an annual gathering of big names.

     

    Current Players

    Drew Brees A.J. Green Marshawn Lynch Adrian Peterson
    Jamaal Charles Casey Hayward Eli Manning Joe Thomas
    Kirk Cousins Tim Jennings Peyton Manning Bobby Wagner
    Victor Cruz Stevie Johnson Doug Martin J.J. Watt
    Larry Fitzgerald Luke Kuechly LeSean McCoy Reggie Wayne
    Arian Foster Chris Long Alfred Morris Russell Wilson
    Jimmy Graham Andrew Luck Von Miller Jason Witten

     

    Other Attendees

    Walter Payton's family Marshall Faulk Barry Sanders
    Troy Aikman Leslie Frazier Deion Sanders
    Bruce Arians Michael Irvin Gale Sayers
    Brian Billick Archie Manning Emmitt Smith
    Jim Brown Steve Mariucci LaDainian Tomlinson
    Dwight Clark Joe Montana Kurt Warner
    Eric Dickerson Jerry Rice Steve Young

AP Most Valuable Player

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    Top Contenders

    Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

    Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

    Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

    J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

     

    Prediction: Peterson

    Peterson finished the regular season with 2,097 yards rushing, leaving him just eight yards shy of trying Eric Dickerson's all-time record. He did it in an offense that lacked other weapons. It meant he often had to carry the offense on his back, and he did so all the way to the playoffs.

    Manning is the other top contender and would be a worthy winner as well. It even wouldn't be a surprise if the two superstars end up splitting the award like Manning did with Steve McNair in 2003.

AP Offensive Player of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

    Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

    Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

    Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints

    Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

     

    Prediction: Peterson

    Make it a clean sweep of the top offensive awards for Peterson. The NFL is a passing league, so it's no surprise that a vast majority of the top candidates are quarterbacks and the game's top wide receiver. But that just makes Peterson's dominance more impressive.

    He rushed for at least 100 yards in nine of his final 10 games. Peterson did it despite defenses knowing full well they would be seeing a heavy dose of him throughout the game. It also helps that no other running back finished within 450 yards of him.

AP Defensive Player of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans

    Geno Atkins, DT, Cincinnati Bengals

    Von Miller, LB, Denver Broncos

    Daryl Washington, LB, Arizona Cardinals

    Charles Tillman, CB, Chicago Bears

    Richard Sherman, CB, Seattle Seahawks

     

    Prediction: Watt

    Watt put together a solid rookie season, but nothing he accomplished led people to believe he was on the verge of become the best defender in football. That's exactly the transformation he underwent this season, however, making him the clear favorite for this award.

    He finished the season with 81 tackles, a league-leading 20.5 sacks and 16 passes defended. His ability to attack the passer while also being able to knock down throws when he can't break the pocket made him an unstoppable force for the Texans.

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

    Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

    Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

    Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

     

    Prediction: Griffin

    Wow. Talk about a strong group of candidates. The list includes three quarterbacks giving their new teams plenty of hope for the future and two running backs taking the league by storm. Ultimately, it's hard to pick against Griffin after his mind-boggling debut campaign.

    He accounted for over 4,000 yards of total offense, scored 27 touchdowns, completed 66 percent of his passes and turned the ball over just seven times. Hopefully he can learn how to avoid taking so much punishment, because he's a thrill to watch for fans around the league.

AP Defensive Rookie of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    Bobby Wagner, LB, Seattle Seahawks

    Luke Kuechly, LB, Carolina Panthers

    Janoris Jenkins, CB, St. Louis Rams

    Casey Hayward, CB, Green Bay Packers

    Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings

     

    Prediction: Kuechly

    While the defensive rookie list isn't anywhere near as star-studded as the offensive list, there are still some strong contenders. It will probably be a two-player race between Kuechly and Jenkins, who could both make strong cases for the honor.

    Kuechly gets the nod because he led the league in tackles with 165, which is 16 more than any other player. He was one of the few brights spots on an otherwise lackluster Panthers defense.

AP Comeback Player of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos

    Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

     

    Prediction: Manning

    There is no use listing more than two contenders for this award. If somebody other than Manning or Peterson takes it home, it would be an absolute stunner. Both superstars returned from serious injuries to put up huge numbers without missing a beat.

    Manning gets the nod because he basically had to start from scratch after his serious neck issues. He eventually got his arm strength back to an acceptable level and, with his new team, tore up defenses and earned the AFC's top seed.

AP Coach of the Year

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    Top Contenders

    Jim Harbaugh, San Francisco 49ers

    Leslie Frazier, Minnesota Vikings

    Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks

    Mike Shanahan, Washington Redskins

    Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts (Now Arizona Cardinals)

     

    Prediction: Arians

    Harbaugh deserves credit for sticking with Colin Kaepernick. The same goes for Carroll, who gave the keys to Russell Wilson after the team signed Matt Flynn. Frazier and Shanahan both took average teams into the postseason.

    All that said, Arians earned the award. He took over for Chuck Pagano while the Colts head coach was dealing with leukemia. He got a young team to channel that emotion in a positive way, and they went 9-3 under his watch. The Colts made the playoffs one year after finishing 2-14.

NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year

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    Nominees (NFL.com)

    Aaron Rodgers, QB, Green Bay Packers

    Tom Brady, QB, New England Patriots

    Arian Foster, RB, Houston Texans

    Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings

    Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

    Tony Gonzalez, TE, Atlanta Falcons

    Stephen Gostkowski, K, New England Patriots

    Chicago Bears Defense

     

    Prediction: Peterson

    First and foremost, if a kicker ever wins this award it should be officially removed from the show forever. Secondly, where's Drew Brees? The Saints quarterback was the leading fantasy scorer in many formats, but didn't even earn spot in the final eight.

    Regardless, rack up another victory for Peterson. The Vikings star scored nearly 50 points more than any other running back, which was a huge advantage for his owners. He also dominated down the stretch as teams were chasing fantasy championships.

Pepsi Max Rookie of the Year

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    Nominees (NFL.com)

    Russell Wilson, QB, Seattle Seahawks

    Robert Griffin III, QB, Washington Redskins

    Andrew Luck, QB, Indianapolis Colts

    Doug Martin, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Alfred Morris, RB, Washington Redskins

     

    Prediction: Griffin

    The same five contenders for the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year are in contention for this award. The difference is that fans are voting on this one, which means the winners could be different players despite having the same competition.

    Alas, Griffin should have enough support from around the country to win both. In a season where there were so many rookies having success, he still managed to steal the spotlight more often than not. The fans will reward him for that.

Play of the Year

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    Nominees (NFL.com)

    Week 2: Eric Wright interception return TD

    Week 2: Reggie Bush 23-yard TD run

    Week 2: Packers special teams trick play

    Week 3: Nate Washington TD catch

    Week 5: Reggie Wayne one-handed catch

    Week 6: Jacoby Jones 108-yard return TD

    Week 6: Brandon Gibson one-handed grab

    Week 6: Ronde Barber 78-yard interception return TD

    Week 6: Robert Griffin III 76-yard TD run

    Week 7: Victor Cruz 77-yard TD catch

    Week 7: Joseph Morgan 48-yard TD catch

    Week 8: Vick Ballard game-winning TD

    Week 9: James Jones 28-yard TD catch

    Week 10: Mike Wallace circus catch

    Week 10: Chris Ivory 56-yard TD run

    Week 12: Ray Rice converts 4th-and-29

    Week 13: Adrian Peterson 82-yard TD run

    Week 14: Cam Newton 72-yard TD run

    Week 14: Jason Avant one-handed catch

    Week 15: Stevie Johnson one-handed catch

     

    Prediction: Rice in Week 12

    Football fans have seen enough 4th-and-long situations to understand why they are so rarely converted. Defenses back off, giving the opposing offense 10 free yards and then swarm the ball and end the drive. It seemed like Rice was in that same situation in Week 12.

    But instead of going down, Rice evaded a couple tacklers, found some open space in the middle of the San Diego Chargers defense and scampered for a first down on 4th-and-29. It was a remarkable play and should easily capture this award amidst plenty of competition.


Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year

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    Nominees (NFL.com)

    Larry Fitzgerald, WR, Arizona Cardinals

    Jason Witten, TE. Dallas Cowboys

    Joe Thomas, OT, Cleveland Browns

     

    Prediction: Fitzgerald

    The Walter Payton Man of the Year Award is given out every year for a combination of performance on the field and volunteer work off it. Recent winners of the honor include Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning, Jason Taylor and last year's winner Matt Birk.

    Fitzgerald, Witten and Thomas are all tremendous candidates. Nobody would complain if any of the three are given the distinction, but let's give the nod to Fitzgerald, who previously won Pro Football Weekly's Humanitarian Award.

Other Awards

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    Here are the other honors that will be handed out on Saturday night, according to NFL.com.

    1. GMC Never Say Never Moment of the Year

    2. FedEx Air and Ground Player of the Year

    3. Greatness on the Road

    4. Salute To Service Award

    5. Don Shula NFL HS Coach of the Year Award

     

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