By: SEAN HANRAHAN
After a wild season, the NFL Honors this year, like always, had its ups and downs. The 2020 season was full of surprises, from star players being on injured reserve the whole season to complete turnarounds in teams.
NFL MVP: Aaron Rodgers
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won MVP over Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. This makes his third MVP win and he capped off the year with 4,299 yards, 48 touchdowns, and only five interceptions. He has been neck-and-neck almost all season with Mahomes. Early on, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson was the favorite, but the entire team’s offense began to crash and burn during the second half of the season. Chiefs fans may think that Mahomes deserved it over Rodgers, but the amount of interceptions thrown by Mahomes in the last couple weeks of the season solidified the pick.
Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry
Titans running back carried the offense this year, rushing for 2,141 yards and 17 touchdowns. He is the eighth player all time to rush for over 2,000 yards. By receiving 19 votes, no other player came close to winning this award.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald won this award for the third time. With 13.5 sacks, four forced fumbles and a fumble recovery, he led the Rams defense to become the best defense this year. However, many fans say that Steelers linebacker T.J Watt deserved the award over Donald. Watt had 15 sacks and two forced fumbles this season as well as an interception. Donald won the award over Watt by only seven votes.
Offensive Rookie of the Year: Justin Herbert
Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert threw for 4,336 yards, 31 touchdowns (NFL rookie record) and 10 interceptions. Herbert was put in as a starter in Week 2 due to previous starter Tyrod Taylor having a punctured lung. Him winning this award has been disputed among fans. Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson had 1,400 receiving yards and 7 touchdowns, breaking the NFL record for rookie receiving yards. Fans called OROY a “quarterback award” because of this and years past when quarterbacks won the award instead of who they believed to be more deserving of it. Jefferson didn’t even come close in voting, when Herbert recieved 21 votes and Jefferson only had 10.
Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chase Young
Washington Football Team’s defensive end Chase Young was drafted second overall, and rightfully so. He had 7.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and was a Pro Bowler. Young dominated in voting, receiving 29 votes.
Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith
Washington quarterback Alex Smith was unanimously picked for this award. Smith had a leg injury in 2018 that caused an infection that he almost died from. Instead of amputating his leg or giving up on football, he worked to get back in the game like no one else did to start five games this season. Although his stats were not the best (six touchdowns to eight interceptions), his story alone makes him the obvious choice.
Coach of the Year: Kevin Stefanski
Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski turned his team around completely. After going 0-16 in 2017, the future of the Browns looked grim. However, in just three years, they have made their first playoff appearance since 2002 and their first playoff win since 1994. The Browns went 11-5 this year and upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the wildcard round. Stefanski won the award over Bills head coach Sean McDermott 14 to 8.
Walter Payton Man of the Year: Russell Wilson
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has been visiting Seattle Children’s Hospital ever since he was a rookie. He founded the Why Not You foundation in 2014, a nonprofit that focuses on getting kids that are in poverty an education. This year Wilson raised over a million dollars for Feeding America, the largest food donation organization in the US. He also joined up with other corporations to deliver food and supplies to over 175 communities worldwide in order to help them survive amid the pandemic.
2020 had something new for all of us, even the National Football League. If it
weren’t for the multitude of injuries, who knows who would have won these awards? Would Christian McCaffery win OPOTY? Would Justin Herbert never start a game? No matter who wins, there will always be people who think that someone else deserved it more. The most notable being TJ Watt and Justin Jefferson, but there are certainly other people that believe that other players that didn’t get a single vote deserved the award.