While Super Bowl 50’s Lombardi Trophy is the big deal, the Carolina Panthers got some individual awards last night.
For the Carolina Panthers, this season has been one of unprecedented happenings. This the first time a Panthers team went 15-1 in the regular season. It was the first time Panthers had home field in the playoffs. It was the first time they had hosted a NFC Championship Game. So the announcement of a few more awards wouldn’t be out of place, right?
The NFL announced some of its big awards tonight. Among additional Panther firsts are the first Panther NFL Offensive Player of the Year and the first Carolina Panther NFL Most Valuable Player. Both of those distinctions belong to one Cam Newton.
While Josh Norman was unable to break J.J. Watt’s grasp on the NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award, the Panthers have won one of those in the past. That was Luke Kuechly in his second professional season. Winning the Offensive Player trophy is new. Newton needed eighteen votes to come out on top with Pittsburgh Steeler wide receiver Antonio Brown coming in second with ten.
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The MVP award further cemented what we have all known for awhile now. Cam Newton had a heck of a year. He scored forty-five touchdowns between throwing and running. That means that somewhere over forty kids got balls from Newton in his MVP season. The collector’s value on those things keeps going up.
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Nor was Newton the only Panther to be rewarded on this day. Coach Ron Rivera took home his second NFL Coach of the Year trophy for leading the Panthers to this one loss season and the Super Bowl. NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell noted that Coach Rivera set the right kind of example and he hoped there would be more minority influence like his.
Later today Rivera will become the second Hispanic to lead an NFL team in a Super Bowl. The first was Raiders coach Tom Flores. Flores won two of the big games behind Jim Plunkett in the early eighties. That’s not a bad trend for Hispanic coaches in the big game.
The Panthers kick off with their award winners at 6:30 PM.