By David Toronto
Every year around February, the immense hype around the fabled Super Bowl rises dramatically. Year in and year out, the prestigious NFL Honors awards ceremony is overshadowed by the biggest sporting event of the year. Awards such as MVP, Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, and Defensive Player of the Year are given out to deserving players at the end of each season.
This year, NFL rookies tore up the football field and many of them became some of the league's best. Players like Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Leighton Vander Esch, and Derwin James all emerged as stars and threats for opposing offenses and defenses for years to come. However, two rookies trump them all. Saquon Barkley, the running back for the New York Giants, and Darius Leonard, the linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts, truly deserved the Offensive and Defensive Rookie awards. Barkley as a rookie accumulated over 2000 yards from scrimmages alone, which is astounding. Sophomore Charlie Robinson says, “The Giants have not been the best team the past couple of years. Adding Barkley is going to change our losing ways, im calling it.” Barkley joins NFL Hall of Famers Eric Dickerson and Edgerrin James for having over 2000 yards in their rookie season. Barkley was a no brainer for the Ofenisve Rookie of the Year award. On the defensive side of things, Darius Leonard was the obvious candidate for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Leonard, who recorded 163 tackles with 111 of those being solo, truly deserved the title. Leonard led the NFL in tackles and had 28 more tackles than Blake Martinez, the 2nd leading tackler in the 2018-2019 season. Along with Leonard’s 163 tackles he also had 7 sacks and 2 interceptions, which is unheard of from the middle linebacker position.
The Comeback Player of the Year award is given to a special player who was able to overcome injury or suspension and have a historic comeback season. Players like J.J. Watt, Adrian Peterson, and Odell Beckham were all possible candidates for the Comeback Player of the Year. Sophomore Henry Soeken says, “ I would have loved Adrian Peterson to win, but let’s be real, Andrew Luck definitely deserved the award.” Andrew Luck, the quarterback for the Indianapolis Colts, blew minds in his historic comeback 2018-2019 season. Luck suffered a crippling shoulder injury in week one of the 2017-2018 NFL season. Doctors told Luck he might not be able to throw a football the same ever again. However, Luck had surgery on his posterior labral tear and began the long road back to becoming a top quarterback in the NFL. Luck went through rehab and ended up being declared healthy right at the start of the Colts summer training camp in August. As Luck prepared for the upcoming season, NFL analysts and fans wondered how the returning all-star quarterback would play. Luck responded to the critics by tossing 39 touchdowns, 4593 passing yards and only 15 interceptions. Luck wowed critics and fans around the globe, proving his case to receive the CPOY award.
The Defensive Player of the Year award goes the most dominant, and powerful game-wrecker in the NFL. Nobody fits this description more than Aaron Donald. The fifth year man out of University of Pittsburgh truly burst on the scene as the best defensive player in the NFL in the 2018-2019 season. Donald’s 20 sacks led the NFL and his 6’1 285 pound frame sent shivers down opposing offensive lineman all season. Sophomore Pierce Pusheck says, “Aaron Donald is a freak of nature. I’ve seen him play on TV and he is very amazing to watch, the way he manhandles offensive lineman is out of this world.” Along with Donald’s 20 sacks, he had 59 solo tackles and 4 forced fumbles which is flat out amazing.
Finally, the most prestigious award in the NFL is the Most Valuable Player. It is every NFL players’ dream to one day win a MVP award. This year the MVP award went to Patrick Mahomes, quarterback from the Kansas City Chiefs. The second year player completely shocked the NFL with his talent. Mahomes threw for 50 touchdowns and is only the third player in NFL history to do so. Along with Mahomes 50 touchdowns, he hurled 5097 passing yards and only 12 interceptions. Sophomore Logan O'Connell says, “I’ve been a Chiefs fan forever and seeing this guy play is amazing. It sucks we didn’t go to the Super Bowl, but if Mahomes keeps up his MVP ways I have no doubt we will be back.”Nobody deserved MVP more than Mahomes, he led the Chiefs to 12 wins and a AFC Championship appearance. There is no doubt that Mahomes is going to be a face of the NFL for years to come. All in all, the winners of the NFL Honors awards are hailed and respected for months to come. Although, when the winds of fall come rolling around again, the battle for the NFL Honors begins, and who knows who will come out on top.