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Aaron Rodgers had won MVPs before – three times, in fact before this season – but he had never won them in consecutive seasons until Thursday night.
Whether he goes for a third MVP in a row and fifth overall with the Green Bay Packers or another team – or does not go for one at all and retires – is still in doubt.
Only Peyton Manning has won five MVPs, and it was Manning who presented Rodgers with the award at the NFL Honors Awards in Los Angeles. Rodgers, 38, became the fifth player in NFL history to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Manning, Brett Favre, Joe Montana and Jim Brown.
“They are all different,” he said. “The first one was really, really special because we came out of winning the Super Bowl and I had my best season to date next year. It seemed like we were a jigsaw puzzle that toughened up and wanted to win another one. It “obviously did not happen. The disappointment of the division round. But they have all been unique in their own way. I think the latter always feels sweetest.”
I received 39 votes, while Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady got 10 and the Los Angeles Rams receiver Cooper Kupp got one. Rodgers has now won the MVP for the 2011, 2014, 2020 and 2021 seasons.
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker TJ Watt won Defensive Player of the Year after equaling the league’s single-season record, while Kupp, who led the league in receptions, received yards and touchdowns, winning Offensive Player of the Year.
Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase was named Offensive Rookie of the Year, and Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons won Defensive Rookie of the Year.
A year ago, Rodgers called his future with the Packers a “beautiful mystery,” and then boycotted their entire offseason. The Packers did not know if he would return to them for the 2021 season until the threshold of training camp, where they made concessions that would make it easier for him to leave Green Bay after the season.
Rodgers recently said he would make a decision on his future before the free agency begins March 16, but he did not mention it in his thank-you speech Thursday night. However, he thanked Packers’ front office – President Mark Murphy, general manager Brian Gutekunst and Vice President Russ Ball – along with coach Matt LaFleur.
“It’s been an amazing 17 years,” Rodgers said of his time at Green Bay. “So grateful for the memories and moments over the years.”
A year after Rodgers threw career-high 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions, he finished with 37 touchdowns and just four interceptions, giving him the best touchdown-to-interception ratio in the NFL. He missed one match due to COVID-19, but the Packers still captured the No. 1 seed in the NFC. The playoffs, in which the Packers lost in the division round to the 49ers, do not take into account the vote.
Watt was an overwhelming winner as a top defender and received 42 votes from a nationwide panel of media members. Parsons and Los Angeles Ram’s defensive tackle Aaron Donald both got three votes.
Watt’s brother, JJ Watt – a three-time self-defensive player of the year – presented him with the award, which was the first to be announced on the show.
Watt tied Michael Strahan’s 2002 single-season firing record of 22.5 despite missing two full games due to injury. He won the award at the end of a season that began with the Steelers making him the NFL’s highest paid defender. At one point this season, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said Watt should not only be the defender of the year, but should also receive MVP consideration.
“Being able to be recognized as the best defender of the year is definitely something I strive to be,” Watt said after receiving the award. “I’m not big on individual goals, but it’s hard for me not to want that when I saw my brother at the height of his career win the award three times. And I always just thought to myself, why can I not do it.that?
“I’m just like that. I’m very honored to receive this award and to be voted on when there are so many motivated and amazing players in the National Football League. And I do not think it has hit me completely yet.”
Kupp became just the fourth player in the Super Bowl era to win the triple crown of reception, leading in catches (145), yards (1,947) and touchdowns (16). With Steve Smith Sr. in 2005, Sterling Sharpe in 1992 and Jerry Rice in 1990 have achieved this since the league merger in 1970.
Coup received 35 votes. Colts running back Jonathan Taylor got 10, while Brady got three and Rodgers two.
Chase, the fifth overall pick in the draft, set the Bengals record for most receiving yards in a game (266) and season (1,455). I got 42 of the 50 votes. Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (5), Chiefs center Creed Humphrey (2) and Chargers tackle Rashawn Slater (1) got the other votes. Chase accepted the award at a distance from Bengals’ Super Bowl headquarters in nearby Los Angeles.
Parsons, the 12th draft pick, was the unanimous 50-vote pick. He helped transform the Cowboys defense and became the first rookie in the team’s history to be named a First Team All-Pro. Parsons was just as effective as an off-the-ball linebacker and as a pass-rusher. He set a Cowboys’ rookie record with 13 sacks, and the coaches credited him with 64 tackles, 12 tackles for losses, 42 quarterback pressures, 3 forced fumbles and 3 passes to secure a Pro Bowl spot.
In other awards, Mike Vrabel won Coach of the Year after leading the Titans to a season of 12 wins despite several injury problems.
Vrabel received 36 votes. Packers’ LaFleur, who won 13 games for the third season in a row, was a distant second place with eight votes. Raiders interim coach Rich Bisaccia, who was hired last week as the Packers’ special teams coordinator, received three votes, followed by Bengals coach Zac Taylor with two and Patriots coach Bill Belichick with one.
The Titans earned the AFC’s top seed for the first time since 2008 despite breaking an NFL record of 91 players over the course of the season. Derrick Henry, the offensive player of the year in 2020, played only eight games in the regular season.
“This is a reflection of our 91 players who helped us win 12 games and our coaching staff,” said Vrabel as he accepted the award.
Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who tore the ACL in his left knee during his rookie season, named Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott the Comeback Player of the Year. Burrow received 28 votes, Prescott 21 and Charger defender Derwin James one.
Burrow, who suffered his injury in a defeat at the end of November 2020 to Washington, returned in time for the season opener and led the Bengals to the playoffs. He accepted the award at a distance from Bengals’ Super Bowl headquarters nearby.
Rams tackle Andrew Whitworth, who has previously played for the Bengals, won the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
Prior to the show, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was named assistant coach of the year. Quinn turned a defense that allowed a franchise record of 473 points in 2020 into one that finished in ninth place in points per game. match and led the league in takeaways.
Quinn changed his defensive philosophy from the single-high system he learned in Seattle, taking with him to the Atlanta Falcons, where he had a five-year run as head coach, to a much more varied system of fronts and covers. After the season ended, he interviewed for a number of vacant head coaches, but chose to withdraw his name from consideration to remain with the Cowboys with a multi-year extension.