The night before Super Bowl XLVII, the NFL will salute its best players and plays from the 2012 season with "NFL Honors," a star-studded football and entertainment event at the Mahalia Jackson Theatre in New Orleans. Just like last year, Alec Baldwin will host the proceedings, which will be broadcast on CBS at 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 2.
The 2012 season was dominated by a bumper crop of first-year stars, and voters had an especially tough call when it came to picking an Offensive Rookie of the Year. Which groundbreaking player would you honor?
Andrew Luck made everyone betterThis was a legit four-way competition between Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III and Redskins running back Alfred Morris, but as one of the 50 official voters, I ended up voting for Luck.
Even with the weight of replacing Peyton Manning on his shoulders, Luck was dominant. He dealt with the adversity of being without Chuck Pagano while the coach underwent treatment for leukemia. The Colts, frankly, aren't that talented. Luck maximized everyone.
RG3 was the most impressive first-year offensive talentYes, Andrew Luck took a team that was 2-14 in 2011 to the playoffs in 2012, but looking at the bigger picture, Robert Griffin III was the more impressive player. Griffin finished the regular season with a passer rating of 102.4, a rookie record; his presence alone allowed for fellow rookie Alfred Morris to even enter into this conversation.
It's an extremely difficult call, but RG3 gets the nodThis was the toughest decision I had to make. Luck had a record-setting year while leading his team to 11 wins and the playoffs. Wilson recorded a quarterback rating of 100.0 while leading his team to 11 wins and the playoffs. Morris finished second in the NFL in rushing, also helping to lead his team to the playoffs. In any other year, all three players would be top-notch choices for the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. But RG3 has to be my choice, for a couple of reasons.
He led the Redskins to the NFC East title, clinching it in the regular-season finale against the arch-rival Dallas Cowboys. His quarterback rating of 102.4 was the third-best in the league, and his rushing total of 815 yards was eighth-best in the NFC. No player in the history of the NFL has done those two things together statistically.
RG3 proved he could beat opponents with his arms and his legs. The most amazing stat, however, might have been his interception percentage: at 1.3, he tied with Tom Brady for the lowest in the NFL.
Russell Wilson's accomplishments push him over the topThis is perhaps the tightest vote of all the NFL awards. I think Wilson gets the nod here, by a sliver. The quietly confident rookie, who lacked a first-round pedigree and had free-agent acquisition Matt Flynn to compete with, was made to earn his job.
He led the Seahawks to an 11-5 record, a four-game improvement from 2011. It's true that Luck and RG3 led similarly impressive turnarounds. But what pushes Wilson over the top is the fact that his team was the best of the group, he started all 16 games (unlike Griffin) and he didn't turn the ball over as much as Luck. What a rookie class, man.
Simply put, this was Luck's yearYou'll hear this expression a lot: "In any other season, (fill in the name) would be the rookie of the year, hands down." And it's a shame for RG3, Wilson, Morris and Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Doug Martin. But Andrew Luck is the Offensive Rookie of the Year. The Colts were so absolutely dreadful in 2011, just getting this team to .500 would have been remarkable. It seems unbelievable that he led them to a playoff berth.