NFL Honors 2016: Award Winners, Voting Results and Twitter Reaction

Danny WebsterAnalyst IIIFebruary 7, 2016

Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton smiles as he fields questions during a press conference in preparation for the Super Bowl 50 football game Thursday Feb. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

It was inevitable, but Cam Newton is officially the best player of the 2015 NFL season.

The Carolina Panthers quarterback was named the Associated Press' Most Valuable Player and was named the AP's Offensive Player of the Year at the 2016 NFL Honors ceremony on Saturday.

Here's a complete rundown of the award winners as well as some reaction from the Twitterverse on some of the notable winners.

2016 NFL Honors Award Winners
AwardWinner
FedEx Air Player of the YearCarson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
FedEx Ground Player of the YearAdrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings
Walter Payton Man of the YearAnquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers
NFL.com Fantasy Player of the YearAntonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the YearDrew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints
Bridgestone Performance Play of the YearAaron Rodgers GW Hail Mary vs. Lions
Don Shula HS Coach of the YearMichael Burnett, Tuscarora (Virginia) HS
Salute to Service AwardVincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Courtyard's Greatness on the Road AwardAntonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
Art Rooney AwardCharles Woodson, S, Oakland Raiders
AP Assistant Coach of the YearWade Phillips, DC, Denver Broncos
AP Comeback Player of the YearEric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
AP Defensive Rookie of the YearMarcus Peters, DB, Kansas City Chiefs
AP Offensive Rookie of the YearTodd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams
AP Defensive Player of the YearJ.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
AP Offensive Player of the YearCam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers
AP Coach of the YearRon Rivera, Carolina Panthers
AP Most Valuable PlayerCam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers

 

Big Night for Cam Newton

The best player on the best team went away with the best award.  

Newton won his first MVP trophy in near-unanimous fashion by receiving 48 of the possible 50 votes. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer both tied for second with one vote apiece.

2016 AP Most Valuable Player
PlayerTeamVotes
Cam NewtonCarolina Panthers48
Tom BradyNew England Patriots1
Carson PalmerArizona Cardinals1
Source: NFL.com

The Panthers tweeted this out in honor of the franchise's first MVP:

Newton also became the first African-American quarterback since Steve McNair to be named the league's MVP, according to ESPN Stats & Info.

Bleacher Report's Mike Freeman also shared his thoughts on Newton's winning the MVP award:

Golden State Warriors superstar and well-known Panthers fan Stephen Curry had this congratulatory message for Newton, per Bleacher Report:

Newton also won the Offensive Player of the Year trophy after his 45-touchdown season capped off by leading the Panthers to their first Super Bowl appearance since Super Bowl XXVIII. Max Henson of the Panthers' official website grabbed this quote from Newton on his thoughts of winning the award:

NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano gave his thoughts:

NFL on ESPN also shared a picture of the potential footwear Newton could be wearing when he leads his team into Super Bowl 50 on Sunday against the Denver Broncos:

It was only a matter of formality before Newton was handed the MVP.

Despite completing fewer than 60 percent of his passes, he threw only 10 interceptions and was close to his second career 4,000-yard season. When the Panthers needed him most, he delivered, especially in the second half of the season. Newton threw 21 touchdowns to only two interceptions in the final eight games. He also threw five touchdowns in three different games. In total, Newton gained 4,473 total yards in 16 contests.

There was no question he would be the MVP. Now, he has a chance to add one more trophy to his collection with a win on Sunday.

 

Coach of the Year—Ron Rivera

For the second time in three years, Riverboat Ron is the league's best coach. 

Ron Rivera was named the AP's Coach of the Year by accumulating 36.5 votes, with Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid coming in a distant second with six.

2016 AP Coach of the Year
CoachTeamVotes
Ron RiveraCarolina Panthers36.5
Andy ReidKansas City Chiefs6
Bill O'BrienHouston Texans2
Mike ZimmerMinnesota Vikings2
Gary KubiakDenver Broncos1.5
Bruce AriansArizona Cardinals1
Bill BelichickNew England Patriots1
Source: NFL.com

Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweeted this photo of Rivera's family with the trophy in good hands:

ESPN's Britt McHenry also chimed in with her thoughts on Rivera's win, talking about how his coaching style goes beyond X's and O's:

Much like Newton, Rivera was the captain of the ship that is leading the Panthers into the Super Bowl. When Carolina hired him in 2011, he was considered the hottest head coaching commodity in the league. He's now showing his worth, and he's one win away from adding another Super Bowl ring to his collection alongside his 1985 Chicago Bears ring.

 

Offensive Rookie of the Year—Todd Gurley

Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley received 27 of the 50 possible votes to be named the AP's Offensive Rookie of the Year. Finishing in second was Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston with 17 votes, and Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper finished third.

AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
PlayerTeamVotes
Todd GurleyLos Angeles Rams27
Jameis WinstonTampa Bay Buccaneers17
Amari CooperOakland Raiders4
Tyler LockettSeattle Seahawks1
David JohnsonArizona Cardinals1
Source: NFL.com

Siciliano captured the moment as Gurley went on stage to receive the award:

Gurley also took a moment to acknowledge the city of St. Louis, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports, as the Rams will be heading back to L.A. in 2016:

"We're going to be in L.A. next year so hopefully we make some noise," Gurley said, per Person.

After suffering a torn ACL in his final season with the Georgia Bulldogs, there were questions on whether Gurley could return to top form. The running back responded with 1,106 yards (third-most in the NFL) on 4.8 yards per carry in his rookie season, and he scored 10 touchdowns while running for 100 yards five times.

The Rams have forever had star running backs, such as Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Gurley has already established himself to be next in line of great Ram tailbacks.

 

Defensive Rookie of the Year—Marcus Peters

This wasn't a bad way for Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters' first NFL season to end.

Not only does he get voted to his first Pro Bowl, but he was named the Defensive Rookie of the Year and was handed the award by the best hip-hop artist today, per the Chiefs:

The Kansas City defensive back was nearly a unanimous winner for the award, capturing 45 of the possible 50 votes. Buffalo Bills rookie corner Ronald Darby came in second with New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams coming in third.

2016 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
PlayerTeamVotes
Marcus PetersKansas City Chiefs45
Ronald DarbyBuffalo Bills4
Leonard WilliamsNew York Jets1
Source: NFL.com

Peters was taken with the 18th pick in the first round and was actually the third corner taken in the draft before the Minnesota Vikings' Trae Waynes and the Houston Texans' Kevin Johnson. In Peters' mind, the Chiefs were the ones who came out of the draft as winners, per Troy Renck of the Denver Post:

Peters' first year resulted in eight interceptions, the most in the NFL, and two returned for touchdowns. With him and Sean Smith patrolling the outside, Kansas City's secondary will be intimidating for years to come.

 

Comeback Player of the Year—Eric Berry

One year removed from being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma, Eric Berry made a Pro Bowl and is now the Comeback Player of the Year.

The Chiefs' star safety won the award by receiving an astounding 38 of the 50 possible votes, with Palmer finishing second with six votes and Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson coming in third.

2016 AP Comeback Player of the Year
PlayerTeamVotes
Eric BerryKansas City Chiefs38
Carson PalmerArizona Cardinals6
Adrian PetersonMinnesota Vikings4
NaVorro BowmanSan Francisco 49ers1
Doug MartinTampa Bay Buccaneers1
Source: NFL.com

It was not an easy road for Berry to get back to being one of the league's premier safeties. After missing 10 games last year because of his diagnosis, Berry started all but one game and recorded 55 tackles and two interceptions while being selected to his fourth Pro Bowl.

"There were some tough times," an emotional Berry said during his acceptance speech, per Marc Sessler of Around the NFL. "There were times I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. There were times of uncertainty. ... There were a lot of lonely nights but my mom was right there.

Erin Coscarelli of NFL Network shared her thoughts on Berry's touching speech:

One of Berry's teammates, running back Jamaal Charles, also expressed his congratulations:

No matter who was in the running for this award, there was no doubt Berry was going to win. His comeback on the field was remarkable. He's the lone one deserving of this award.

 

Defensive Player of the Year—J.J. Watt

Three's company for J.J. Watt.

The Houston Texans' star pass-rusher won his third Defensive Player of the Year Award, his second straight trophy, by receiving 37 of the 50 possible votes. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald came in second with seven votes.

Watt beat out Carolina Panthers stars Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman in the voting as well.

2016 Defensive Player of the Year
PlayerTeamVotes
J.J. WattHouston Texans37
Aaron DonaldLos Angeles Rams7
Luke KuechlyCarolina Panthers4
Josh NormanCarolina Panthers2
Source: NFL.com

Watt's third DPOY award puts him in some elite company, per ESPN Stats & Info:

The Texans tweeted this after Watt was named the winner:

Some of Watt's teammates were also quick to congratulate him, including defensive back Kareem Jackson:

Texans offensive lineman Duane Brown also was proud of his teammate and has probably experienced firsthand more than anyone how much of a challenge it is to go against Watt:

"I was a 2-star recruit coming out and now I have three (Defensive Player of the Year) awards," Watt said after accepting the award, per Chris Wesseling of Around the NFL. "So...screw all of you guys for doubting me."

Not only has Watt been dominant, but he's been the closest thing to an iron man the NFL has to offer. He has not missed a single game in the five years he's been in the league and is only 25.5 sacks away from reaching the 100-sack mark. For that alone, he can say whatever he wants.

For as long as he continues at this pace, Watt may be the recipient of this award a few more times before his career is over.

 

Walter Payton Man of the Year—Anquan Boldin

San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Anquan Boldin was named the winner of the prestigious Walter Payton Man of the Year Award. New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning and New Orleans Saints tight end Ben Watson were the other nominees.

The award is given to the player who displays great play on the field but also exemplifies work in his community. Per Andie Hagemann of Around the NFL, the Anquan Boldin Foundation awarded $10,000 scholarships to five college prospects this past fall.

Hagemann also provided a transcript of Boldin's acceptance speech:

When I first got into the NFL nobody could tell me anything. I was living life. I had achieved my dream of one day making it into the NFL, but I soon realized that's not what life is all about. I realized my purpose in life was not to make it to the NFL and score touchdowns. God put me on this earth for something much bigger than that and I realized and understand what my purpose is now. ... It's my prayer and my hope that I can live out the rest of my life honoring God and help as many people as possible.

Boldin became the first player in 49ers history to win the prestigious award, and the team also tweeted this after the announcement:

49ers center Daniel Kilgore tweeted his congratulations to his teammate:

The Giants also sent out this tweet, congratulating the Super Bowl champion wide receiver:

The Walter Payton Man of the Year award normally doesn't get as much attention as the on-the-field awards, but it's still important to have because it recognizes some great people in the league. Boldin has been one of them for a long time, and this is well-deserved.