Ravens’ Jackson named NFL MVP unanimously
MIAMI — Lamar Jackson’s stunning season not only earned him The Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award, but he won it unanimously.
That’s right: The second-year quarterback of the Baltimore Ravens joins Tom Brady as the only players to receive every vote for MVP.
Jackson drew all 50 votes from a nationwide panel of media members who regularly cover the league. Baltimore’s All-Pro set an NFL record for yards rushing by a quarterback (1,206) and led an offense that compiled more yards on the ground (3,296) than any in league history. The Ravens won their final 12 games of the regular season to finish at 14-2, the league’s best mark.
Jackson had a powerful message for kids who have been told they should change positions on the field and who face criticism and doubters.
“Make those people eat their words,“ he said. “It feels good when you can make those people eat their words because they’re so negative. How are you going to wake up and be so negative about somebody who’s not negative toward you or don’t do anything wrong? Don’t worry about what they say. Do you. Stay focused because you want to be great, and you’re going to be great. Just do you.”
Brady was also an unanimous MVP in 2010. And like Brady, Jackson’s special season did not include a championship.
“I’m still young,“ Jackson said. “I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I’m not really trying to dwell on what I just did. If I win a Super Bowl, you’ll probably see a lot more emotion.”
The Ravens were big winners at NFL Honors on Saturday. John Harbaugh won coaching honors, and his offensive coordinator, Greg Roman, took best assistant coach honors.
Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill earned the Comeback Player award by one vote over Jimmy Garoppolo, who will quarterback the 49ers in Sunday’s Super Bowl. New Orleans’ Michael Thomas took top offensive player honors, while New England’s Stephon Gilmore grabbed the defensive player award.
Rookie honors went to 49ers edge rusher Nick Bosa and Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray, the top overall pick in last April’s draft.
Edge rusher Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Thomas is only the second wide receiver to win Offensive Player of the Year. He is in good company: The other receiver to take the honor was Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in 1987 and 1993.
While Rice holds virtually all of the significant NFL receiving records, Thomas has one that made a huge difference with the voters. Thomas caught a league-record 149 passes for 1,725 yards and nine touchdowns. He also played five games without regular quarterback Drew Brees, yet made 42 catches in those outings.
“It was just consistency and following our leader, Drew Brees. He’s been a tremendous example for everyone across the league,“ Thomas said. “I don’t take that for granted. I take notes on how he prepares. ... Honestly, it’s hard for me to even pat myself on the back without patting the people around me on the back, because they’ve helped me tremendously.“
Gilmore is the first cornerback in a decade to win Defensive Player of the Year.