Super Bowl week in Los Angeles has a ton to look forward to – including the glitzy Honors Ceremony to announce the winners of the NFL awards for 2021.
The league’s great and good were all on hand in Tinseltown Thursday night as some of the biggest prizes around were handed out, and here are the results.
What are the NFL awards?
There are several awards to be handed out at that NFL Honors Ceremony on Thursday February 10 in Los Angeles, and here are the most notable:
The most prestigious of all individual NFL honors, and the race was pretty hot in 2021 – there was no absolute guaranteed winner going into the ceremony.
When betting stopped, Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers was the favorite, closely followed by Tampa Bay QB and GOAT Tom Brady.
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Other players in the conversation were Los Angeles Rams WR Cooper Kupp and Indianapolis Colts RB Jonathan Taylor. But they were outliers in a category that almost always hands the award to a quarterback.
Winner: Aaron Rodgers, for the second straight year and the fourth time overall.
NFL Offensive Player Of The Year (OPOY)
While QB pretty much hoovers up MVP every year, this category at least gave the little guys a chance. And by that we mean the RBs and WRs. Derrick Henry took the award in 2020 and might have been a lock in ’21 until he went down with a foot injury mid-season.
Colts RB Jonathan Taylor had a sensational season but it ended on a sour note as Indy dropped its last two games vs Vegas and Jacksonvile to miss out on the playoffs.
Rams WR Cooper Kupp was unstoppable this year – he racked up an astonishing 1947 receiving yards and 16 TDs on 145 catches. Insane numbers.
Winner: Cooper Kupp gets a deserved gong despite missing out on MVP honors.
NFL Defensive Player Of The Year (DPOY)
Aaron Donald might be the greatest DT ever to play pro football, and he has the baubles to prove it.
The Rams megastar has been named DPOY three times already – in 2017, 2018 and 2020 – and he is a bona fide game wrecker. Just impossible to block one-on-one.
The biggest threat to Donald came from Pittsburgh’s sensational OLB T.J. Watt, who equaled the NFL single-season sack record held by Michael Strahan by racking up 22.5 in 2021.
Outside of Watt, we had a rookie causing some waves here in the shape of Dallas new boy Micah Parsons. Playing a mix of LB and edge, Parsons was terrific in his first season in the pros, racking up 13 sacks.
Winner: T.J. Watt grabs the prize after a sensational 2021 season.
NFL Comeback Player Of The Year
This was a two-horse race, plain and simple – Dak Prescott vs Joe Burrow.
For most of the year Dallas QB Dak, who had his 2020 ended by a grisly ankle injury, was way out in front in the betting. Burrow meanwhile – coming off a devastating knee injury in 2020 – was his closest pursuer.
Things tightened up though in the closing weeks of the season, as Burrow produced two incredible performances back-to-back vs Baltimore and Kansas City. He racked up 971 passing yards and 8 TD passes in those two games alone, with an NFC North title the net result for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Winner: Joe Burrow pipped Dak to win the award after a sensational finish to 2021.
NFL Coach Of The Year
A three-horse race here – when betting stopped we had Cincy head coach Zac Taylor and Green Bay’s Matt LaFleur bracketed at the top of the betting line.
Just behind the leading pair though was Tennessee HC Mike Vrabel, who pretty much performed miracles in our opinion to guide the Titans not only to the AFC South title but also the #1 seed in the NFC.
Winner: Mike Vrabel was a deserved winner after an incredible coaching job in 2021.
NFL Rookie Of The Year
We had two categories here – Offensive and Defensive. One was a hot race while the other was never in doubt.
In the offensive category the sensationally talented Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase headed the betting early with a really hot start. But he was then passed by New England’s rookie QB Mac Jones as the former Alabama signal caller guided the Pats to seven straight wins.
Right at the end of the season though Mac and the Pats faltered, dropping three of their last four games. Chase meanwhile came on strong as he profited from Burrow’s passing in those wins over Baltimore and KC.
That win over the Chiefs was the signature performance for Chase as he hauled in 11 passes for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Incredible.
In the defensive category Dallas LB Micah Parson was favorite before the season even started, and he did not let anybody down.
The former Penn State star was brilliant in his rookie year, and his position flex (played a lot of edge as well as traditional LB) just increased the havoc he caused for opposing offenses.
Parsons finished the regular season with 13 sacks, and should be the leader of an improved Dallas defense for the next decade. A truly special talent.
Offensive Winner: Ja’Marr Chase
Defensive Winner: Micah Parsons
The ceremony takes place on Thursday February 10, 2022 at YouTube Theater in Los Angeles. The ceremony will begin at 9pm Eastern Time/8pm Central Time/6pm Pacific Time.
Yes, you absolutely can – it is broadcast live and you have options. ABC will show the ceremony live while it will be simulcast on ESPN+ and NFL Network.
These awards are voted for/backed by the Associated Press. There are other awards (Pro Football Writers of America or PFWA for exampe) but these are the ones which are totally aligned with the NFL and seen as the most prestigious.
AP Most Valuable Player delivered by Pizza Hut
AP Coach of the Year
AP Comeback Player of the Year
AP Offensive Player of the Year presented by Microsoft Surface
AP Defensive Player of the Year presented by Castrol
AP Offensive Rookie of the Year
AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
Bridgestone Clutch Performance Play of the Year
Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year presented by Nationwide
NFL Inspire Change Tribute presented by P&G
Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022
FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year
Salute to Service Award presented by USAA
Bud Light Celly of the Year
Courtyard Unstoppable Performance of the Year
NFL Fan of the Year presented by Captain Morgan
Deacon Jones Award
Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award
AP Assistant Coach of the Year
Actor and producer Keegan-Michael Key will be the man on dais.