KANSAS CITY, Mo. (January 11, 2018)– The remarkable turnaround of the Los Angeles Rams during the 2017 NFL regular season has led to the team's clean sweep of all three 101 Awards for the NFC: Coach of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year. Coach Sean McVay, running back Todd Gurley and defensive tackle Aaron Donald will be honored along with the AFC winners—Coach of the Year Doug Marrone and Defensive Player of the Year Calais Campbell of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Offensive Player of the Year Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers—at a black-tie awards dinner on February 24, 2018 in Kansas City. The 101 Awards show will be broadcast on NFL Network at a later date.
The nation's longest-running salute to professional football, the 101 Awards has annually honored outstanding achievements in the NFL based on votes by a selection committee comprised of 101 members of the national media. Founded in 1969, the 101 Awards has recognized many of the greatest players and coaches ever to take the field throughout NFL history, and this year's class adds to the impressive list of award winners.
Leading the Rams to a remarkable one-season turnaround, NFC Coach of the Year Sean McVay first made headlines this season by becoming the youngest head coach in the NFL's modern era. At just 31 years of age, McVay transformed the 4-12 2016 Rams into an 11-5 team in 2017, capturing the franchise's first division title since 2003 and earning the team's first playoff appearance since 2004. Coaching the Rams to a league-best 29.9 points per game, McVay also became the youngest head coach since 1937 to win 10 games in his first season.
Taking over as head coach of the Jaguars with just two games left in the team's 2016 season, AFC Coach of the Year Doug Marrone inherited a 3-13 team that hadn't had a winning season since 2007. In just his first full season at the helm in 2017, Marrone guided Jacksonville to a 10-6 regular season record and the team's first division title since 1999. Despite key injuries, including those to the team's top three wide receivers, Marrone found ways to win—largely by improving the team's defense. The 2017 Jaguars nearly became the first team since the NFL-AFL merger to lead the league in sacks, takeaways and scoring defense, finishing a close second in each category.
One of two repeat 101 Award winners in this year's field, AFC Offensive Player of the Year Antonio Brown made a strong case for himself to earn NFL MVP honors by becoming the league's most dominant receiver. Despite missing the final two regular season games due to injury, Brown led the NFL in receiving yards (1,533) and receiving yards per game (109.5), repeatedly making big plays when games were on the line. En route to becoming the NFL's first receiver with five 100-catch seasons, Brown notched his third 1,500-yard season (tied for second-most all-time) and was selected to his sixth overall and fifth consecutive Pro Bowl. The only player this season to be voted as a unanimous selection to the AP All-Pro Team, Brown will receive his second 101 Award after previously taking home the same honor following the 2014 season.
Earning NFC Offensive Player of the Year honors is Rams running back Todd Gurley. Largely responsible for the Rams league-leading 29.9 points per game, Gurley more than doubled his production from a season ago to lead the NFL in total non-passing touchdowns (19), rushing touchdowns (13) and yards from scrimmage (2,093). Also leading the NFC in rushing yards (1,305), Gurley earned two NFC Offensive Player of the Week (Weeks 15, 16) and two NFC Offensive Player of the Month honors (Sept., Dec.) and finished the season as the league's highest-graded running back from Pro Football Focus (92.0). Also a threat in the passing game, Gurley posted 788 receiving yards, good for second on the team, and was named first-team All-Pro following the season.
Joining his coach as a 101 honoree is AFC Defensive Player of the Year Calais Campbellof the Jacksonville Jaguars. A 10-year NFL veteran, the defensive end earned the title as the "Mayor of Jacksonville" from Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry by turning in 14.5 sacks and leading a staunch Jaguars defensive unit. Setting franchise records for sacks in a season and sacks in a single game (4.0), Campbell, who was asked to play both inside and outside in different situations throughout the season, earned All-Pro honors at two positions: first-team as an edge rusher and second-team as an interior defensive lineman.
Rounding out the sweep for the Rams is defensive end Aaron Donald, the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. Also a first-team All-Pro selection, Donald finished the regular season with the second-highest grade of any player in the NFL from Pro Football Focus with a 98.4 mark. Leading all full-time interior rushers with 11 sacks, Donald posted a jaw-dropping 91 quarterback pressures on the season—12 more than any other edge rusher and 25 more than any other interior defensive linemen. Also tying for first in the NFC and second in the NFL with five forced fumbles, Donald wrecked offensive game plans all season en route to his fourth Pro Bowl selection and his second 101 Award.
In addition to the player and coach awards distributed at the event, The Committee of 101 also will present theLamar Hunt Award for Professional Football, which was created in 2007 to honor the life and legacy of the Chiefs founder. This award recognizes a person or group that significantly contributed to the NFL and its status as the preeminent pro sports league in America. The event will also feature a salute to the Super Bowl Champions and a representative of the Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2018. Those awards will be revealed at a press conference on February 6 in Kansas City.
Presented by Burns & McDonnell, the 48th annual 101 Awards event will also recognize two Chiefs award winners—Kareem Hunt, the Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year, and Alex Smith, the Derrick Thomas Most Valuable Player—and feature the announcement of the Chiefs 2018 Hall of Fame inductee.
For the third consecutive year, the beneficiary of the 101 Awards will be The University of Kansas Health System's Sports Medicine & Performance Center, which strives to prevent injury and improve the health and wellness of student-athletes throughout the region. The University of Kansas Health System is a not-for-profit organization and receives no state or local funding, relying instead on philanthropy and sound fiscal management.