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.
|FedEx Air Player of the Year||Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals|
|FedEx Ground Player of the Year||Adrian Peterson, RB, Minnesota Vikings|
|Walter Payton Man of the Year||Anquan Boldin, WR, San Francisco 49ers|
|NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year||Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Castrol EDGE Clutch Performer of the Year||Drew Brees, QB, New Orleans Saints|
|Bridgestone Performance Play of the Year||Aaron Rodgers GW Hail Mary vs. Lions|
|Don Shula HS Coach of the Year||Michael Burnett, Tuscarora (Virginia) HS|
|Salute to Service Award||Vincent Jackson, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers|
|Courtyard's Greatness on the Road Award||Antonio Brown, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Art Rooney Award||Charles Woodson, S, Oakland Raiders|
|AP Assistant Coach of the Year||Wade Phillips, DC, Denver Broncos|
|AP Comeback Player of the Year||Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs|
|AP Defensive Rookie of the Year||Marcus Peters, DB, Kansas City Chiefs|
|AP Offensive Rookie of the Year||Todd Gurley, RB, Los Angeles Rams|
|AP Defensive Player of the Year||J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans|
|AP Offensive Player of the Year||Cam Newton, QB, Carolina Panthers|
|AP Coach of the Year||Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers|
|AP Most Valuable Player||Cam 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.
|Cam Newton||Carolina Panthers||48|
|Tom Brady||New England Patriots||1|
|Carson Palmer||Arizona Cardinals||1|
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:
Cam Newton wins MVP award.— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) February 7, 2016
Dab on em'.
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:
Cam Newton on winning MVP: "I'm very proud. We didn’t get in this position by happenstance. It took years of hard work and dedication."— Max Henson (@PanthersMax) February 7, 2016
NFL Network's Andrew Siciliano gave his thoughts:
Cam Newton is your MVP. Well deserved.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) February 7, 2016
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:
Cam Newton's MVP cleats. pic.twitter.com/XC4r078dlI— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) February 7, 2016
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.
|Ron Rivera||Carolina Panthers||36.5|
|Andy Reid||Kansas City Chiefs||6|
|Bill O'Brien||Houston Texans||2|
|Mike Zimmer||Minnesota Vikings||2|
|Gary Kubiak||Denver Broncos||1.5|
|Bruce Arians||Arizona Cardinals||1|
|Bill Belichick||New England Patriots||1|
Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer tweeted this photo of Rivera's family with the trophy in good hands:
Ron Rivera's family with his coach of the year trophy: wife Stephanie, children Courtney and Christopher. pic.twitter.com/0FIUpQrndx— Joe Person (@josephperson) February 7, 2016
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:
Not only did he win Coach of the year but no better coach than Ron Rivera for personalities in Panthers locker room. Lets them be themselves— Britt McHenry (@BrittMcHenry) February 7, 2016
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.
|Todd Gurley||Los Angeles Rams||27|
|Jameis Winston||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||17|
|Amari Cooper||Oakland Raiders||4|
|Tyler Lockett||Seattle Seahawks||1|
|David Johnson||Arizona Cardinals||1|
Siciliano captured the moment as Gurley went on stage to receive the award:
.@RamsNFL Todd Gurley was emotional on stage. Pure class.— Andrew Siciliano (@AndrewSiciliano) February 7, 2016
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:
Todd Gurley gives a shout out to St. Louis football fans, says the move to LA is “ out of our control”— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) February 7, 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.
|Marcus Peters||Kansas City Chiefs||45|
|Ronald Darby||Buffalo Bills||4|
|Leonard Williams||New York Jets||1|
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:
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Marcus Peters. "The Chiefs stole the draft." He said he thought he was best defender. Turns out, was right.— Troy Renck (@TroyRenck) February 7, 2016
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.
|Eric Berry||Kansas City Chiefs||38|
|Carson Palmer||Arizona Cardinals||6|
|Adrian Peterson||Minnesota Vikings||4|
|NaVorro Bowman||San Francisco 49ers||1|
|Doug Martin||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||1|
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:
Congrats EB, you are a true inspiration! https://t.co/6b73LahRLu— Jamaal Charles (@jcharles25) February 7, 2016
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.
|J.J. Watt||Houston Texans||37|
|Aaron Donald||Los Angeles Rams||7|
|Luke Kuechly||Carolina Panthers||4|
|Josh Norman||Carolina Panthers||2|
Watt's third DPOY award puts him in some elite company, per ESPN Stats & Info:
J.J. Watt: Defensive Player of the Year— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 7, 2016
Joins Lawrence Taylor for most DPOTY awards in NFL History (3) pic.twitter.com/BLm4Aq3YWh
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:
Congrats to my guy @JJWatt well deserved my guy!!— Kareem Jackson (@ReemBoi25) February 7, 2016
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:
3 times in 4 years. Incredible bro. Congrats @JJWatt on DPOY!— Duane Brown (@DuaneBrown76) February 7, 2016
"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:
Congrats to @AnquanBoldin for winning the 2015 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award! Great teammate and even better man off the field!— Daniel Kilgore (@DanielKilgore67) February 7, 2016
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.