JJ Watt Headlines NFL Honors’ Standouts, Wins DPOY
To finish up the recaps of the NFL Honors, which took place Saturday night, there are a lot of awards that haven’t been covered yet. We’ve covered the Hall of Fame Inductees for the class of 2016. We’ve covered the NFL MVP, Cam Newton. And we’ve also covered Ron Rivera, the new Coach of the Year. So, what’s all the fuss about over JJ Watt?
Defensive Player of the Year
Last year, this award was won unanimously as JJ Watt took home the crown for the second year in a row. The top five nominees for this award were JJ Watt, again, Aaron Donald of the St. Louis Rams and two Panthers’ players, Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman. In the end, Donald received seven votes, while Kuechly and Norman each received two. 37 of the votes, which is a big majority, were all given to the man himself, JJ Watt.
The Houston Texans’ defensive end turned in another marvelous season and now has an award to prove it. It was his third consecutive year winning the award, which places him in elite company. The only other player to reach that level of success was current Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor. His dominance on the defensive end was highlighted by his league-leading 17-and-a-half sacks, 3 forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 8 passes defensed.
JJ Watt responded to winning the award three years in a row:
“There might be kids out there pretending that they’re wearing No. 99, [and that] is literally one of the coolest things in the entire world. I was a two-star recruit … going to college, and now I have three Defensive Player of the Year trophies, so [take that] all you guys who doubted me.”
Strong words from one of the scariest defenders in the league.
Comeback Player of the Year
This award is given to a player that has had to overcome some sort of difficulty in respect to where he is now. That difficulty can be shown through a very poor performance the year before, a severe injury or missing the previous season for other reasons. This year, that award was given to Kansas City Chiefs’ safety Eric Berry.
Last season, Eric Berry was battling a war he wasn’t used to. He ended up missing a total of ten games last year, while he battled lymphoma, which occurs when blood cell tumors develop from lymphatic cells. However, dealing with cancer wasn’t going to stop Berry from continuing to enjoy his life as a football player. He returned to the field this season and put on a performance that will be remembered.
Helping his team to a 10-game winning streak during the regular season, Berry was a huge reason that the Chiefs made it to the playoffs. He was an inspiration not only to his fans, but most of all his team. Of the possible 50 votes, Berry received 38 of them. The runner-up was Carson Palmer, quarterback for the Arizona Cardinals, who received six votes. Third place was given to Adrian Peterson, running back for the Minnesota Vikings.
Berry continued to inspire when he gave his thank-you speech:
“Everybody, just live out your dreams. Don’t let anything come in between. I’m truly honored, truly blessed, truly thankful to be standing here before you all. … It was some tough times. It was some times where I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. … There was a lot of rough times, a lot of rough nights, a lot of lonely nights.”
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Coming off knee surgery in college, Gurley wanted to prove to the rest of the NFL that he was here and ready to make a statement. Although he missed the first two games of the season, he stayed true to that. As he finally saw a role on the team, he let his talent lead him.
At one point during the regular season, Gurley had a massive four-game stretch. He managed to record more than 100 yards each game over that four-game span (146, 159, 128 and 133). Finishing the season third in rushing with 1,106 yards, while also scoring 10 touchdowns, Gurley proved that he is here to stay. It’s not often we see that type of performance out of a rookie.
After receiving the award, Gurley stated:
“I just want to say something to the St. Louis fans: I know you all might be disappointed that we might be leaving, but you know, it’s out of our control.”
The St. Louis Rams will be headed to Los Angeles to pursue their NFL legacy.