J.J. Watt wins Walter Payton Man of Year Award
MINNEAPOLIS — Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt has won the NFL’s Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
The recipient of the award recognizes a player’s contribution in his community and to society in general.
Watt, in his seventh NFL season and a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, had the goal of raising $200,000 for Hurricane Harvey relief in Houston.
His fundraising did a whole lot more, bringing in an incredible $37 million in 19 days. Watt has dedicated himself to finding organizations that will apply the funds in a way he has promised both donors and victims of the storm.
One night before he hopes to add a sixth Super Bowl title to his collection, Tom Brady has won The Associated Press NFL 2017 Most Valuable Player Award.
The four-time Super Bowl MVP of the New England Patriots also took the regular-season award in 2007 and 2010. He’s the fifth straight quarterback to win.
At 40, Brady had one of his best seasons with 32 touchdown passes and eight interceptions, a passer rating of 102.8 and, not incidentally, a 13-3 record to top the AFC. He did that despite missing his favorite receiver, Julian Edelman, for the entire schedule.
Brady earned 40 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. That easily outdistanced Rams running back Todd Gurley with eight, and Eagles QB Carson Wentz with two. Wentz was considered a strong MVP contender before tearing up his left knee in Game 13.
In his first season running a team, and as the youngest head coach in NFL history, Sean McVay won The Associated Press 2017 NFL Coach of the Year award.
McVay, who turned 32 on Jan. 24, led the Los Angeles Rams to an 11-5 record, a seven-game improvement from the mark they managed the previous year.
The Rams won their first NFC West title since 2003, and second-year quarterback Jared Goff improved exponentially under McVay’s guidance.
McVay ran away with the voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. He drew 35 votes to 11 for Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer. Doug Marrone of Jacksonville received two votes, while the Super Bowl coaches, Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and New England’s Bill Belichick, each got one.
Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly has won the 2017 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award.
The award recognizes the NFL player who best demonstrates the qualities of outstanding sportsmanship on the playing field, including fair play, respect for opponents and integrity in competition.
The award was founded in 2014 in honor of the late founding owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pro Football Hall of Famer Art Rooney, Sr.
Kuechly will receive a $25,000 donation from the NFL Foundation to a charity of his choice.
Pat Shurmur heads to his new job as coach of the New York Giants with a prize.
For his work as offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings, Shurmur has won The Associated Press 2017 NFL Assistant Coach of the Year award.
With a backup quarterback, Case Keenum, and without prized rookie running back Dalvin Cook for most of the year, Shurmur helped Minnesota go 13-3 and win the NFC North with a strong attack. The Vikings ranked 11th overall in offense, doing so without a true star.
Shurmur earned 24½ votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the NFL. He easily outdistanced New Orleans defensive coordinator Dennis Allen, New England DC Matt Patricia, and Los Angeles Rams DC Wade Phillips, who all got four votes.
And Shurmur, former head coach in Cleveland, parlayed his Vikings work into the top job in New York.
Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen returned from two devastating injuries to win The Associated Press 2017 NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.
Allen missed half of the 2015 season with a kidney issue, then was lost in the 2016 season opener with a torn right ACL. There were questions if Allen would ever player at a high level again.
He answered those emphatically this season with the best year of his career. Allen caught 102 passes for 1,393 yards and six touchdowns. He was targeted 159 times, nearly 10 per game.
That performance earned him 28 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. He easily outdistanced Minnesota quarterback Case Keenum, who had eight.
Hard-hitting linebackers Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher and big-play receiver Randy Moss all made the Pro Football Hall of Fame on their first try, while controversial receiver Terrell Owens got in on his third time on the ballot.
Safety Brian Dawkins also got voted by the 47 Hall of Fame voters as part of the eight-person class that also included contributor Bobby Beathard and senior nominees Jerry Kramer and Robert Brazile.
Lewis and Urlacher helped define playing middle linebacker in their era with Lewis winning two AP Defensive Player of the Year awards and one Super Bowl MVP for Baltimore and Urlacher winning a Defensive Player of the Year award of his own.
Moss and Owens were two of the most dynamic receivers of their time, but also lightning rods because of an inability to get along well with teammates and coaches at times that led to each playing for five teams in their careers.
No rookie had more impact on his NFL team this season than New Orleans Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, The Associated Press 2017 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The 11th overall draft pick and first from his position selected, Lattimore was a shutdown defender as the Saints won the NFC South with an 11-5 record. The Ohio State product had five interceptions and 18 passes defensed in 13 games, was a sure tackler and, by midseason, was someone opposing quarterbacks tended to avoid.
He missed three games, one because of a concussion and two with an ankle injury. But his performance led to a runaway victory in the nationwide voting by 50 media members who regular cover the NFL. Lattimore got 45 votes, far ahead of Buffalo CB Tra’Davious White with four and San Francisco LB Reuben Foster got one.
Sam Gordon, 14, was honored as the first “Game Changer.”
Gordon played in an almost all-boys tackle league in Utah when she was 9.
A few years later, when Gordon wanted to keep playing, she learned that there were no more leagues in which girls could play.
Gordon and her father, Brent, launched the Utah Girls Tackle Football League — the first all-girls tackle football league. It doubled in size after its first year — and inspired similar leagues in Indiana, Georgia and Canada.
Todd Gurley’s sensational turnaround season in which he ran for 13 touchdowns and caught six TD passes in the Los Angeles’ Rams equally impressive reversal of fortunes earned him The Associated Press 2017 Offensive Player of the Year Award.
The third-year running back was the AP’s top offensive rookie in 2015, then had a mediocre second season. When Sean McVay took over as coach and Jared Goff was installed as the No. 1 quarterback, it was imperative that Gurley rebound. Did he ever, rushing for 1,305 yards and dominating defenses as LA went 11-5 to win the NFC West.
Gurley got 37 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. That put him far ahead of Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown, who received eight votes. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady got 4 and Houston receiver DeAndre Hopkins had one.
In a year featuring outstanding rookie running backs, the New Orleans Saints’ Alvin Kamara has won The Associated Press 2017 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
Kamara, a third-round draft pick from Tennessee, beat another third-rounder, Kansas City RB Kareem Hunt, in balloting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Kamara, selected 19 spots ahead of Hunt, received 28 votes to 21 for Hunt. Houston rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson, despite playing in only seven games before a season-ending knee injury, got the other vote.
Kamara shared duties with veteran Mark Ingram as the Saints won the NFC South. He rushed for 728 yards with a 6.1-yard average, and scored eight times. He also caught 81 passes for 826 yards, with five touchdowns.
Aaron Donald is the first pure defensive tackle to win The Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year award since 1999.
Often the province of outside pass rushers and backs, the Los Angeles Rams star broke the trend by earning 23 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Warren Sapp of Tampa Bay was the previous DT to win the award. Others have been Hall of Famers Joe Greene and Cortez Kennedy.
While the Rams’ defense didn’t rank highly in league stats, Donald was a force. The 2014 top defensive rookie spent 2017 destroying blockers, leading all players at his position with 11 sacks and had 58 pressures while usually being double-teamed.
End Calais Campbell, in his first season with the Jaguars, was second with 17 votes. Arizona’s Chandler Jones got five.