NEW YORK – There wasn't any real suspense at the "NFL Honors" show on Saturday, at least not with the biggest award.
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning won his record fifth Associated Press NFL MVP award. That has been expected since early in the season, maybe even since the first game of the NFL season when Manning tied a NFL record with seven touchdowns in a win against Baltimore. Manning got 49 of 50 votes, with the other vote going to New England's Tom Brady.
Manning, who set records for passing yards and passing touchdowns in a season, also won offensive player of the year. He couldn't be at Radio City Music Hall for the show – he had a prior commitment, namely Super Bowl XLVIII on Sunday – but he taped a short message in which he thanked everyone for the MVP, including his coaches and teammates.
"I am humbled by this recognition," Manning said in the taped message.
Manning's father Archie and his son Marshall then came on stage to accept the MVP award.
Luke Kuechly, Carolina's fantastic middle linebacker, won the defensive player of the year award. He had 156 tackles and helped the Panthers win a NFC South division title. He beat out Indianapolis' Robert Mathis and Seattle defensive backs Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.
"It's a great group of guys, anybody could have gotten it," Kuechly said. "It's a great honor."
Carolina's Ron Rivera won coach of the year, which seemed inconceivable when the Panthers started 1-3 and the team was reportedly scouting potential replacements at coach. Carolina lost only one more game the rest of the regular season and Rivera – who gained a "Riverboat Ron" nickname when he became more aggressive going for it on fourth downs – was rewarded as the NFL's top coach.
"I was fortunate enough that our owner had the courage and patience to stand behind me," Rivera said.
Green Bay Packers running back Eddie Lacy was the offensive rookie of the year, and Jets defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson was the defensive rookie of the year. The common thread between the two is that they were looked over by plenty of teams in the draft.
Richardson was the sixth defensive player taken in the 2013 draft, at 13th overall. He'd go higher if the draft were reset and done again. Lacy was the fourth running back taken, behind Giovani Bernard of Cincinnati, Le'Veon Bell of Pittsburgh and Montee Ball of Denver. He outproduced them all, and got the nod over San Diego receiver Keenan Allen for the award.
"It's not a grudge thing," Lacy said. "I just wanted to come out and play the way I was capable of playing."
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers won comeback player of the year after a career revival in coach Mike McCoy's first season. Rivers posted a 105.5 rating, tying his career best at age 32.
Chicago cornerback Charles Tillman won the Walter Payton Man of the Year award, which recognizes off-field community service and excellence on the field.
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