Panthers quarterback Cam Newton was named NFL MVP at last night’s NFL Honors show, and Carolina’s Ron Rivera earned coach of the year honors for the second time in three seasons.
Neither Newton nor Rivera attended the awards show, as they were at the team hotel in San Jose, California, preparing to face the Denver Broncos in today’s Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium.
“It means so much, but not just for myself,” Newton said in a video acceptance speech for the MVP award. “To be the first person in Panthers history to win it — that’s what I’m most proud about. I’ve received a lot of awards, but to be able to get this organization here, I’m really proud. We didn’t get in this position by happenstance. It took years of hard work and dedication, and now we are reaping the benefits.”
Newton was a landslide choice for MVP, with 48 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters who regularly cover the NFL. Fellow QBs Tom Brady and Carson Palmer each received one vote.
In his fifth pro season, Newton also earned the Offensive Player of the Year award, which his father, mother and two brothers accepted.
“Cam took an unconventional journey to get here, and we’re just so proud of what has happened, my family and I,” Newton’s father, Cecil, said. “So many thanks go out to so many people, from Pop Warner to the Panthers. I don’t have time to tell you all ‘thank you.’ You know who you are. We know who you are.”
Newton earned 18 votes for top offensive player. Steelers receiver Antonio Brown was second, with 10.
Newton became the first black quarterback to win The Associated Press MVP award outright. Tennessee’s Steve McNair shared the award with Peyton Manning after the 2004 season.
If Newton and the Panthers win Sunday, it would make Newton the first quarterback and second player ever to win a Heisman Trophy, college football national championship, NFL MVP and Super Bowl.
Running back Marcus Allen led USC to the national title in 1978, won the Heisman in 1981, led the Los Angeles Raiders to the Super Bowl in 1983 and was named league MVP in 1985.
Newton won the Heisman and led Auburn to the national title in 2010.
Manning, a five-time NFL MVP, said Newton is the future of the league.
“Anything that the sheriff has to say, you can probably ink it in gold,” Newton said during Super Bowl media night. “It’s just a tremendous honor to be even mentioned and affiliated with the face of the league.
“But yet, I think I have bigger fish to fry on Sunday, and then we’ll worry about the rest of the eight to 10 years after that.”