MINNEAPOLIS — The NFL honored its best at the annual “NFL Honors” show on the University of Minnesota campus Saturday night.
The NFL has turned the night before the Super Bowl into its awards gala, as the best players in the sport get together and the league hands out its major trophies including MVP and offensive and defensive rookie of the year.
Here’s a rundown of who took home the awards on Saturday night:
Defensive player of the year: Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald
Donald has long been considered one of the NFL’s best defensive players, and now he has an award to prove it. Donald was named NFL defensive player of the year for the first time in his career. He had 11 sacks and was a major piece of the Rams’ surprising NFC West championship season.
“This is truly a blessing,” Donald said in accepting the award. “My dad always told me hard work pays off .. this is truly a blessing. I’m blessed and honored to have this right now.”
Offensive player of the year: Los Angeles Rams RB Todd Gurley
While Donald took home the defensive player of the year award, his teammate Gurley ended up winning the offensive award. Gurley had a dynamic season from beginning to end for the Rams, after struggling in 2016. A coaching change to Sean McVay helped. Gurley thanked McVay, his teammates and other stars around the league like Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell for keeping him focused on being his best.
“I just appreciate you all for motivating me and inspiring me,” Gurley said.
Despite sharing time with Mark Ingram in the Saints backfield, the explosive Kamara beat out a tough field that included rushing champion Kareem Hunt and Jaguars star back Leonard Fournette.
“It’s amazing to be where I’m at right now,” Kamara said.
Kamara had 1,554 yards from scrimmage and 13 touchdowns. He and Ingram became the first teammates at running back to both surpass 1,500 yards from scrimmage in the same season.
“When the season is over you realize what you’ve done and I’ve had a chance to look back and say, ‘I made some history this season,'” Kamara said.
Defensive rookie of the year: New Orleans Saints CB Marshon Lattimore
Lattimore and Kamara made some history. They’re the first set of teammates to win offensive and defensive rookie of the year since the Detroit Lions in 1967, the first year of the awards. Lattimore helped transform the Saints’ defense by playing like a No. 1 cornerback all season.
Coach of the year: Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay
McVay started the season as the youngest coach in modern NFL history. The Rams couldn’t have dreamed the hire would have turned out this well. The Rams surprised everyone by winning the NFC West, breaking a long playoff drought. It was the third major award the Rams won on Saturday night, to go with Donald and Gurley winning the defensive and offensive player of the year awards, respectively.
“This truly is the ultimate team award,” McVay said. “Truly honored and humbled because of the respect and admiration for the coaches you have around this league.”
Most Valuable Player: New England Patriots QB Tom Brady
Not that Tom Brady’s résumé needed to get longer, but he’s now the oldest MVP in NFL history. By three years. Read about Brady’s historic award.
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