The remarkable success of the Dallas Cowboys and Oakland Raiders during the NFL's 2016 regular season has landed both teams the conference Coach of the Year along with a Player of the Year in national balloting for the 47th annual NFL 101 Awards. Jason Garrett and Jack Del Rio have been named the NFC and AFC coaches of the year by The Committee of 101 and will be honored alongside the top offensive and defensive players at the annual NFL 101 Awards in Kansas City on Sunday, February 26, 2017. Taking the top player honors are three first-time 101 Award winners— Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott, Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack and New York Giants safety Landon Collins—and five-time winner Tom Brady of the New England Patriots. The awards will be presented at a black-tie awards dinner in Kansas City and will be broadcast on NFL Network.
The 101 Awards, benefiting The University of Kansas Health System, will stage its 47th annual awards gala at the Westin Crown Center Hotel in Kansas City.
"The University of Kansas Health System is honored to be a part of this annual event, which shines a spotlight on exceptional talent, sportsmanship and leadership in the NFL," said Bob Page, the health system's president and chief executive officer.
"Whether we are caring for the Kansas City Chiefs or high school teams, our sports medicine experts are dedicated to providing exceptional care to athletes at every level. High-quality, accessible sports medicine care is particularly important for young people, since more than 3 million student athletes across the United States need some kind of medical intervention every year. This is why we are so grateful the proceeds from this ceremony will support our partnership with the Chiefs to benefit the health and wellness of student athletes throughout Kansas City," Page added.
The event is presented by Burns & McDonnell and, in addition to the national winners, will also recognize two Chiefs awards.
The nation's longest-running salute to professional football, the 101 Awards has annually honored outstanding achievement in the NFL based on votes by a selection committee of national media. Founded in 1969, the 101 Awards has recognized many of the greatest players and coaches ever to take the field throughout NFL history, and this year's class adds to the impressive list of award winners.
Leading the Cowboys to the best-ever one-season turnaround in NFL history, NFC Coach of the Year Jason Garrett transformed a 4-12 2015 team into a franchise-record tying 13-3 team in 2016 despite losing franchise quarterback Tony Romo to a preseason injury. Guiding rookie sensations Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott to Pro Bowl seasons, Garrett led a young Cowboys team to its second NFC East title in three years and the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Now in his sixth full season as a head coach—all with the Cowboys—Garrett boasts the second-most wins of any Cowboys head coach behind the legendary Tom Landry.
Taking over as head coach of the Raiders in Jan. 2015, AFC Coach of the Year Jack Del Rio inherited a 3-13 team that hadn't won more than four games in each of its previous three seasons. In his first season (2015), he improved the team's record to 7-9, and, this season, completed his stunning turnaround by going 12-4 and earning the team's first playoff berth since 2002. Under Del Rio's guidance the Raiders earned a league-leading seven Pro Bowl selections, the most since 1991. In his second turn as a head coach, Del Rio earned his third postseason appearance after earning two with the Jacksonville Jaguars (2005, 2007).
The only repeat 101 Award winner from this year's field is AFC Offensive Player of the Year Tom Brady, who earns the honor for the fifth time. Despite missing four games at the beginning of the season, Brady posted some of the best numbers of his career, including an NFL record-setting 28:2 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Unquestionably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time, Brady earned the highest quarterback grade from Pro Football Focus and moved ahead of Dan Marino for fourth all-time in passing yards. He earned his franchise-record 12th Pro Bowl selection and led the Patriots to their eighth-straight AFC East title, his 14th overall.
Earning NFC Offensive Player of the Year honors is Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. The rookie sensation led the league in rushing yards with 1,631 despite sitting out the final game of the regular season. Just the fifth rookie to earn the rushing title, Elliott also led the league in yards per game (108.7), carries (322), first downs (91) and 20-plus-yard carries (14). Earning his first Pro Bowl selection, Elliott outrushed all other running backs in the NFL by 318 yards and, along with Brady, is among the top contenders for league MVP.
Taking the honors as AFC Defensive Player of the Yearis Oakland Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack. Finishing the regular season with 73 combined tackles—the most by an NFL defensive end—Mack was graded by Pro Football Focus as the league's top edge defender. Also credited with a league-leading 96 quarterback pressures, Mack earned AFC Defensive Player of the Month honors in November and notched his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Helping the Raiders to a 12-4 record and playoff berth, the third-year defensive end also recorded 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and one interception.
Rounding out the player awards is New York Giants safety Landon Collins, the NFC Defensive Player of the Year. En route to his first Pro Bowl selection, Collins turned in an incredible stat line that included 100 solo tackles, 2 sacks, 5 interceptions and 12 passes defended. The second-year pro from Alabama finished the regular season as the team leader in tackles (125), with his 100 solo efforts ranking second in the league. Helping the Giants to their first postseason appearance since winning the Super Bowl in 2011, Collins added five interceptions and four sacks to his line and earned two NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for outstanding play against the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition to the player and coach awards, The Committee of 101 also presents theLamar Hunt Award for Professional Football, which was created in 2007 to honor the life and legacy of the Chiefs founder. This award recognizes a person or group that significantly contributed to the NFL and its status as the preeminent pro sports league in America. The recipient of this year's award will be announced at a later time.
For the second consecutive year, the beneficiary of the 101 Awards will be The University of Kansas Health System's Sports Medicine and Performance Center, which strives to prevent injury and improve the health and wellness of student-athletes throughout the region. (The University of Kansas Health System is a not-for-profit organization and receives no state or local funding, relying instead on philanthropy and sound fiscal management.)