"I want to thank the man upstairs," Newton said.
The first Panther to take the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton.
Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. He helped Carolina improve from 2-14 to 6-10, throwing for 21 touchdowns.
"It's still a learning process for me," Newton said. "I mean, I learned so much the entire season. I can do so many things better. I have so much respect for this league that a lot of people don't understand what it takes to be a player in the National Football League, let alone the quarterback."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press