SAN FRANCISCO — Cam Newton was named the Associated Press NFL most valuable player in a landslide.
The Panthers' All-Pro quarterback, who will lead his team in today's Super Bowl 50 against Denver, received 48 votes from a nationwide panel of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters who regularly cover the league. Fellow QB Tom Brady, a two-time MVP from the Patriots, and Carson Palmer of the Cardinals each got one vote.
The award was presented Saturday night during the NFL Honors broadcast.
Newton 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) and threw for 3,837 yards. His 636 yards on the ground easily led all QBs.
"Cam took an unconventional journey to get here, and we're just so proud of what has happened, my family and I," Newton's father Cecil said.
Newton also was named NFL offensive player of the year. For that honor, Newton earned 18 votes. Steelers WR Antonio Brown was next with 10.
J.J. Watt was named defensive player of the year for the third time; last year he was unanimous. This time the Texans defensive end earned 37 of 50 votes. Rams DT Aaron Donald received seven votes. Watt tied Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor as the only three-time honorees.
"(That) there might be kids out there pretending that they're wearing No. 99 is literally one of the coolest things in the entire world," Watt said. "I was a 2-star recruit … going into college, and now I have three defensive player of the year trophies, so (take that) all you guys who doubted me."
Also, Rams RB Todd Gurley beat Bucs QB Jameis Winston as offensive rookie of the year. Gurley came off of knee surgery in college — he missed the first two games of the season while recovering — to rush for 1,106 yards this season. He then went on a tear that included four straight 100-yard rushing performances: 146, 159, 128 and 133 yards. He finished the season third in league rushing and scored 10 touchdowns. Gurley, a first-round draft pick (10th overall) out of Georgia, earned 27 votes. Winston received 17.
Kansas City's Marcus Peters was the first cornerback in 17 years to be named defensive rookie of the year. The first-round selection (18th overall) tied Cincinnati's Reggie Nelson for the NFL lead with eight interceptions, two returned for scores, and added a pick in the postseason. Peters earned 45 votes, with Bills CB Ronald Darby (four votes) second.
San Francisco receiver Anquan Boldin, a former Florida State standout, was named the Walter Payton NFL man of the year. Boldin, 35, and his wife Dionne pledged $1 million last year to the Anquan Boldin Foundation, which aims to expand the educational and life opportunities of underprivileged youth.
• Coach of the year: Ron Rivera of the Panthers, for the second time in three years.
• Comeback player of the year: Kansas City S Eric Berry, who missed 10 games in the 2014 season battling lymphoma.
• Assistant of the year: Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, whose top-ranked unit is playing in today's Super Bowl.
Ex-Niner back: Broncos TE Vernon Davis has one more game to play this season at Levi's Stadium. But not as a 49er. Davis, the 10-year pro who once was a central figure in the 49ers offense, was traded to Denver in November. He is back in California to play Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, on the home field of his former team. "I'm back in Santa Clara where I grew up from a little boy to a man," Davis said of his NFL upbringing with the 49ers. "I'm back here. My house is 12 minutes away. It's been a great experience and I look forward to the rest."
Bronco fines: The league fined Denver's Von Miller, T.J. Ward and Shiloh Keo $23,152 each for actions in their victory over New England in the AFC title game on Jan. 24. Miller, a linebacker, was docked for unsportsmanlike conduct; safeties Ward and Keo were docked for illegal hits.