Cam Newton named NFL's MVP, top offensive player
Quarterback to lead Panthers in Super Bowl 50 vs. Broncos
Cam Newton has won The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player award in a landslide.
The Carolina Panthers' All-Pro quarterback, who will lead his team in Sunday's Super Bowl against Denver, received 48 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the league. Fellow QBs Tom Brady, a two-time MVP, and Carson Palmer each got one vote.
In his fifth pro season, Newton also earned Offensive Player of the Year. In 2011, he was the league's top offensive rookie.
"It means so much, but not just for myself," Newton side in a video acceptance speech for the MVP award. "To be the first person in Panthers history to win it — that's what I'm most proud about. I've received a lot of awards, but to be able to get this organization here, I'm really proud. We didn't get in this position by happenstance. It took years of hard work and dedication, and now we are reaping the benefits."
Newton set an NFL mark for the position with 45 touchdowns this season: 35 passing and 10 rushing. He also ranked sixth in passer rating (99.4) while throwing for 3,837 yards. His 636 yards on the ground easily led all QBs, and the 10 touchdowns rushing were more than All-Pro running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay scored.
Newton's coach gets the nod
Ron Rivera has won The Associated Press NFL Coach of the Year award for the second time in three years.
Rivera led the Panthers to an unprecedented third straight NFC South title and two playoff victories. He has the Panthers in the Super Bowl with a 17-1 record.
"It's a tremendous award for the organization," Rivera said. "It validates everything that we've done. And again, our success always starts at the top. I really do appreciate our owner, Mr. [Jerry] Richardson, for believing in me and giving me my opportunity. Dave Gettleman and Marty Hurney — the two general managers I've worked with — I thank them for what they've done. Our coaching staff has been tremendous; our players have been outstanding."
Watt earns defensive honour
Houston end J.J. Watt won his third Defensive Player of the Award in five pro seasons. He also won it it in 2012 and last year, when he was a unanimous choice.
This time, in tying Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor as the only players to take the award three times, Watt earned 37 votes.
Watt spoke about playing football in the yard with his brothers while growing up in Wisconsin, pretending to be Packers stars Reggie White or Brett Favre.
"There might be kids out there pretending that they're wearing No. 99 is literally one of the coolest things in the entire world," Watt said. "I was a 2-star recruit ... going into college, and now I have three Defensive Player of the Year trophies, so [take that] all you guys who doubted me."
Berry accepts comeback player award
Kansas City safety Eric Berry gave an emotionally charged speech while accepting Comeback Player of the Year. At one point, his eyes welled with tears and he paused before accepting the award.
Berry missed 10 games the previous season battling lymphoma, then returned to the Chiefs to become an All-Pro. His inspirational story and superb performance on the field earned him 38 votes.
His teammate, cornerback Marcus Peters, took Defensive Rookie of the Year. Peters tied for the league lead with eight interceptions in helping the Chiefs make the playoffs. He received 45 votes.
Rams running back Todd Gurley took Offensive Rookie with 27 votes, well ahead of the 17 for Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston, the first overall pick in last year's draft. Gurley missed the first two games of 2015, then went on a tear that included four straight 100-yard rushing performances: 146, 159, 128 and 133 yards. He finished the season third in league rushing and scored 10 touchdowns.
Wade Phillips' work in turning the Denver defense into the stingiest in the NFL got him the Assistant Coach of the Year award. The Broncos ranked first overall and against the pass, third versus the run.
San Francisco receiver Anquan Boldin received the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his off-field work.