The NFL Awards were announced and there were few surprises. These guys overcame the challenges of a COVID-ridden season and managed to excel beyond their peers.
The NFL Honors program also included the announcement of the 2021 Pro Football Hall of Fame class.
Joining Charles Woodson, Peyton Manning and Megatron Johnson in the 2021 class are Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Alan Faneca, Oakland Raiders head coach Tom Flores, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Denver Broncos safety John Lynch, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Drew Pearson and Steelers scout Bill Nunn.
Alan Faneca, G
Faneca was athletic and was a nine-time Pro Bowl pick and a six-time first-team All-Pro. His teams were among the league’s top five in rushing six times in his 13 seasons and led the league twice.
Calvin Johnson, WR
Detroit Lions, 2007-15
Calvin Johnson broke the mold for NFL receivers with his 6-5 height, 4.3 speed. The six-time Pro Bowler ushered in a new era of tall, athletic, and unrecoverable receivers — a must-have in any current NFL offense.
In 2012 he came within 36 yards of becoming the first receiver in NFL history to finish with 2,000 yards in a season.
During the nine years he played, he led the NFL in receiving yards (11,619), receiving TDs (83), receiving yards per game (86.1), 100-yard games (46), 200-yard games (five) and games with multiple receiving TDs (17).
John Lynch, SS
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 1993-2003; Denver Broncos, 2004-07
Lynch was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time first-team All-Pro selection and a Super Bowl winner. He had eight 80-tackle seasons, including 84 tackles in 2006 at age 35 and three with over 100 tackles. He was an aggressive, intelligent player and a lynchpin in Tony Dungy’s Tampa Bay defense, before being named to the Pro Bowl in each of his four seasons with the Broncos. Lynch was also a game-changer as 14 of his 26 career interceptions came in the fourth quarter.
Peyton Manning, QB
Indianapolis Colts, 1998-2011; Denver Broncos, 2012-15
What else can we say about Peyton Manning that hasn’t already been said?
At the time of his retirement, Manning held NFL records for passing touchdowns (539), passing yards (71,940) and quarterback starts won by his team (186, tied with Brett Favre). His single-season records of 5,477 yards passing and 55 touchdowns, set in 2013 with the Broncos, still stand.
The only thing that stops Manning from being the undisputed GOAT is the fact that he has two Super Bowls and Brady has sixth and is going for a seventh in a few hours.
Charles Woodson, CB, S
Oakland Raiders, 1998-2005, 2013-15; Green Bay Packers, 2006-12
The multi-dimensional Charles Woodson was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection and was named Defensive Rookie of the Year (1998) and Defensive Player of the Year (2009). The former Michigan Wolverine was a deft playmaker who was the first player in NFL history to have at least 50 interceptions and 20 sacks.
He could have easily been an all-world wide receiver as well. Woodson, a current football analyst, is one of the best to ever do it in the secondary. His Canton enshrinement is well deserved.
Tom Flores, HC
Oakland Raiders, 1979-81; LA Raiders 1982-87; Seattle Seahawks 1992-94
Flores, nicknamed the Ice Man because of his stoic facial expressions as a player, became the first-ever Hispanic starting quarterback in professional football with the Raiders in 1960.
The fifth-leading passer all-time in the history of the old American Football League, he won a championship as a player with the Kansas City Chiefs in 1970, as an assistant with Oakland in 1977 under John Madden, and as the Raiders head coach during the 1980 and 1983 seasons.
Drew Pearson, WR
Dallas Cowboys, 1973-83
Pearson’s election was announced Saturday during the “NFL Honors” award show on CBS. Also named to the 2021 Hall of Fame Class:
Pearson, 70 and a Cowboys Ring of Honor member, is the 20th Cowboys player selected to the Hall of Fame. Former head coach Jimmy Johnson and safety Cliff Harris were elected to the 2020 Hall of Fame “Centennial Class,” but the enshrinement ceremony was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Hall of Fame has rescheduled the 2020 Class ceremony for Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio, followed by the 2021 Class enshrinement Aug. 8.
The wide receiver was devasted when he didn’t get inducted last year. His reaction to the snub went viral.
A revamped Enshrinement Week, dubbed “Twice the Fun in ’21,” clearly will have a Cowboys feel to it.
“The Class of 2021 was chosen Jan. 19 by the Hall’s board of selectors during a virtual meeting. The eight new Hall of Famers will be enshrined during a multiday event Aug. 5-9 in Canton. The extended enshrinement weekend also will include ceremonies for the Hall’s Class of 2020, as well as the centennial class of Hall of Famers selected as part of the league’s 100th anniversary. Both ceremonies were canceled last year because of COVID-19 restrictions.
The Hall’s Class of 2020 is Steve Atwater, Isaac Bruce, Steve Hutchinson, Edgerrin James and Troy Polamalu. The centennial class is Harold Carmichael, Jim Covert, Bill Cowher, Bobby Dillon, Cliff Harris, Winston Hill, Jimmy Johnson, Alex Karras, Steve Sabol, Donnie Shell, Duke Slater, Mac Speedie, Ed Sprinkle, Paul Tagliabue and George Young.”