For the second year in a row, former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodger was named the NFL MVP. For the second year in a row, he did not win the ESPY for Best NFL Player. The winner, announced Wednesday, was Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who was the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl won by the Rams.
Rodgers and Kupp were among the four nominees for the NFLaward, along with Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt and Colts running back Jonathan Taylor.
The ESPYs are awarded based on online voting from fans, with some sportswriters, broadcasters, sports executives, and ESPN personalities also getting votes. Kupp held a substantial lead early in the voting, and he reportedly won the ESPY by a significant margin.
The winners are typically played on a championship team. The NFL MVP award is based only on regular-season performance, and Rodgers was the easy winner of that award in both 2020 and 2021 after posting remarkable regular-season statistics. He led the league in passer rating (111.8) for the second straight season in 2021, completing 68.9% of his passes, with 37 touchdown passes and just four interceptions.
However, Rodgers’ performance in the postseason has been less than spectacular the past two years, and the Packers failed to reach the Super Bowl either year. The Packers lost to the San Francisco 49ers in Green Bay’s opening postseason game this past season. The Rams then defeated the 49ers to reach the Super Bowl.
Last year, Tom Brady, who led the Buccaneers to the Super Bowl championship, won the ESPY for “Best NFL Player” even though Rodgers was named the 2020 MVP.
This year Kupp won the NFL ESPY after putting up impressive numbers in the regular season and the postseason. He led the NFL in receptions (143), receiving yards (1,947) and receiving touchdowns (16). He then added 45 catches for 625 yards and seven touchdowns in four postseason games, including eight catches for 92 yards and two touchdowns in Los Angeles’ 23-20 victory over Cincinnati in the Super Bowl. He was named the game’s MVP.
That Super Bowl showing also earned Kupp the ESPY for Best Championship Performance.
What is interesting is that Rodgers was one of four athletes and the only football player nominated for the “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports” ESPY.
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You have to wonder whether Rodgers’ controversial stance about vaccination and his explanation for why he opted not to get vaccinated had any affect on the fan voting.
Rodgers has won an ESPYS for “Best NFL Player” four times, which is a record. He won in 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2017. Rodgers has never been named “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports.” This year’s ESPY for “Best Athlete, Men’s Sports” had yet to be announced when this story was posted.
Even though this year’s ESPY awards ceremonies were held in Los Angeles, it was not televised live on the West Coast. It was shown live on the East Coast starting at 8 p.m., which would have been 5 p.m. on the West Coast. But the ABC network affiliates in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle showed the ESPYs on tape-delay beginning at 8 p.m. West Coast time. ABC stations on the West Coast showed news, Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune during the period the ESPY awards were shown live on the East Coast.
Cover photo by Mike DiSisti, USA TODAY Sports
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