SAN FRANCISCO — Cam Newton is now a Super Bowl quarterback with an MVP award.
Offensive Player of the Year, too.
And his coach, Ron Rivera, owns a second NFL honor as well.
Newton, the Carolina Panthers star, won The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player and Offensive Player of the Year awards Saturday night.
“It means so much, but not just for myself,” Newton side 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 not on hand at NFL Honors because he is kind of busy preparing for a little game on Sunday against Denver. But just as he has for much of the week and for most of the season, Newton still was a dominant figure.
His father, mother and two brothers accepted the Offensive Player award.
“Cam took an unconventional journey to get here and we’re just so proud of what has happened, my family and I,” said Newton’s father Cecil. “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 was a landslide choice for MVP with 48 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who regularly cover the NFL. Fellow QBs Tom Brady and Carson Palmer each received one vote.
San Francisco receiver Anquan Boldin received the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award for his off-field work.
The All-Pro quarterback set an NFL mark for the position with 45 touchdowns this season: 35 passing and 10 rushing. He also ranked sixth in passer rating (99.4), while throwing for 3,837 yards. His 636 yards on the ground easily led all QBs, and the 10 touchdowns rushing were more than All-Pro running back Doug Martin of Tampa Bay scored.
Rivera led the Panthers to an unprecedented third straight NFC South title and two playoff victories. In a season featuring several outstanding coaching jobs, Rivera easily outdistanced the field. He received 361/2 votes, far in front of Kansas City’s Andy Reid with six votes.
Rivera also won the award two years ago. He dedicated this one to his late brother, Mickey, who died recently.
“It’s a tremendous award for the organization,” Rivera said. “It validates everything that we’ve done. And again, our success always starts at the top. I really do appreciate our owner, Mr. (Jerry) Richardson, for believing in me and giving me my opportunity. Dave Gettleman and Marty Hurney — the two general managers I’ve worked with — I thank them for what they’ve done. Our coaching staff has been tremendous; our players have been outstanding.”
Another outstanding player, Houston end J.J. Watt, won his third Defensive Player of the Award in five pro seasons. He also won it in 2012 and last year.
This time, in tying Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor as the only players to take the award three times, Watt earned 37 votes.
“It’s almost difficult to comprehend because I’ve only been in the league five years,” Watt said. “So to think about where I’ve come from and where I am now and what lies ahead, those type of things it almost doesn’t register because of the greatness of the guys that have come before me. So to even be considered amongst those guys is truly incredible. But I mean that’s what the goal is. The goal is to come out here and try to be one of the best ever.”