Tom Brady wins MVP; Aaron Donald in Warren Sapp territory

Published February 3
Updated February 3

MINNEAPOLIS — Patriots quarterback Tom Brady became the league’s oldest MVP on Saturday night and the Rams’ Aaron Donald was the first pure defensive tackle to win the NFL defensive player of the year award since the Bucs’ Warren Sapp in 1999.

Brady had one of his best seasons with 32 touchdown passes and eight interceptions and a passer rating of 102.8. He is the second player in the four major professional sports to be named MVP at age 40; Barry Bonds won baseball’s award in 2004.

Brady, who also took the regular-season award in 2007 and 2010, earned 40 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Rams running back Todd Gurley had eight votes, and Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz had two. Wentz was considered a strong MVP contender before tearing up his left knee in Game 13, ending his season.

Often the province of outside pass rushers and linebackers, Donald, 26, broke the trend by earning 23 votes. Other defensive tackles to win the award: Pittsburgh’s Joe Greene and Seattle’s Cortez Kennedy, who along with Sapp are all Hall of Famers.

While the Rams defense didn’t rank highly in league stats, Donald was a force. The 2014 top defensive rookie led all players at his position with 11 sacks and had 58 pressures while often double-teamed.

End Calais Campbell, in his first season with the Jaguars, was second with 17 votes. The Cardinals’ Chandler Jones got five.

OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Gurley was honored for a sensational turnaround season in which he ran for 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns and had six TD catches. He was the top offensive rookie in 2015, then had a mediocre second season. Gurley got 37 votes, Steelers receiver Antonio Brown got eight votes, Brady got four and Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins got one.

COACH OF THE YEAR: In his first season running a team, and as the youngest head coach in NFL history, the Rams’ Sean McVay, 32, drew 35 votes to 11 for Minnesota’s Mike Zimmer. Doug Marrone of Jacksonville received two votes, while the Super Bowl coaches, Philadelphia’s Doug Pederson and New England’s Bill Belichick, each got one.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS: Saints running back Alvin Kamara was named offensive rookie of the year. Kamara split time with Mark Ingram and rushed for 728 yards with a 6.1-yard average, with eight touchdowns. He also caught 81 passes for 826 yards, with five touchdowns. … Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly won the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. … Viking offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was named top assistant. … Chargers receiver Keenan Allen returned from two injuries to have his best season and win comeback player of the year. … Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore was named defensive rookie of the year. …Texans defensive end J.J. Watt was named Walter Payton man of the year for his hurricane assistance work.