The NFL Honors awards ceremony looked different this year, not just because it was held in a virtual setting due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The New England Patriots were also absent from the show one 12 months after cornerback Stephon Gilmore took home Defensive Player of the Year honors: no members of the organization were recognized for their work on or off the field during the ceremony this time around.
All in all, 18 awards were handed out and two Patriots had realistic chances to take one (or rather to get it sent to their) home. However, neither defensive back Devin McCourty nor wide receiver Matthew Slater or long snapper Joe Cardona were successful in their respective categories.
While McCourty was the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for the fourth time, he lost to Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Slater, meanwhile, was nominated for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award for the fourth straight season; he lost to Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Cardona, on the other hand, did make it to the final round of the Salute to Service Award after failing to so in each of the last four years. Eventually, however, he came up short against AMB Sports and Entertainment CEO Steve Cannon representing the Atlanta Falcons.
Other members of the Patriots had virtually no chance at winning any awards this year coming off a disappointing 7-9 season for the team.
All in all, this year’s NFL Honors winners look as follows:
- Most Valuable Player: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
- Coach of the Year: Kevin Stefanski, Cleveland Browns
- Comeback Player of the Year: Alex Smith, Washington Football Team
- Offensive Player of the Year: Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
- Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
- Offensive Rookie of the Year: Just Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
- Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chase Young, Washington Football Team
- Assistant Coach of the Year: Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills
- Walter Payton Man of the Year: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
- Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award: Teddy Bridgewater, Carolina Panthers
- Deacon Jones Award: T.J. Watt, Pittsburgh Steelers
- Brdgestone Clutch Performance of the Year Award: “Hail Murray”, Arizona Cardinals
- FedEx Air & Ground Players of the Year: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers; Derrick Henry, Tennessee Titans
- Salute to Service Award presented by USAA: Steve Cannon, Atlanta Falcons
- Bud Light Celly of the Year: Pittsburgh Steelers, Week 11
- Snickers Hungriest Player of the Year: Kyler Murray, Arizona Cardinals
- DraftKings Daily Fantasy Player of the Year: Josh Allen, Buffalo Bills
In addition to the winners, the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was also announced. Eight players made the cut, with Patriots defensive lineman Richard Seymour not among them for the third straight year.