The NFL's Best Come Together in Kansas City for the 48th Annual 101 Awards

The nation’s longest-running salute to professional football took place on Saturday

The 48th annual 101 Awards took place on Saturday as the nation's longest-running salute to professional football once again recognized the best of the best in the NFL.

The Awards, which have honored many of the NFL's greatest players and coaches since its founding in 1969, are voted on by a committee of 101 media members from across the country.

"I think the best thing about it is that it honors those who achieve excellence in the previous football season," said Chiefs Chairman and CEO Clark Hunt. "This was something that my dad started 48 years ago because he wanted to honor not only the Kansas City Chiefs, but also the great players and coaches from around the league."

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The University of Kansas Health System served as the event's beneficiary for a third-consecutive year. Proceeds from the 101 Awards will help the experts at their Sports Medicine and Performance Center improve the health and wellness of young athletes throughout the region.

Here's a rundown of everyone who was honored on Saturday night.

Derrick Thomas Most Valuable Player

Winner: Quarterback Alex Smith

The Derrick Thomas Most Valuable Player Award annually honors the Chiefs' top performer as voted on by the players themselves. Smith was deemed worthy of that distinction following the best statistical year of his career in 2017, in which the 13-year veteran threw for 4,042 yards and 26 touchdowns while leading the league in passer rating (104.7).

Smith tossed just five interceptions on the year and completed 38 passes of at least 25 yards – the fourth-most in the NFL.

Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year

Winner: Running back Kareem Hunt

The Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year Award is named in honor of the late Mack Lee Hill, who suddenly passed away in 1965 after two seasons with the Chiefs. This year's recipient of the award was tailback Kareem Hunt, who amassed the most prolific rookie season by a running back in franchise history.

Hunt racked up 246 yards from scrimmage in his first-career game, the most ever by a player in their debut, and went on to tally at least 100 yards of offense in each of his first seven games as a professional – also an NFL record. He broke the franchise record for rushing yards by a rookie in Week 15 and later became just the sixth rookie in the Super Bowl Era to lead the league in rushing.

It was all part of a whirlwind of a year for the 22-year-old tailback, who was getting ready for the NFL Combine at this time just 12 months ago.

"Just going through the process and not knowing where I was going to end up, I had to be prepared," Hunt said. "To be drafted by the Chiefs, to have a starting role and to find the success that I did – it was just amazing. It really was a life changer and I couldn't be happier."

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Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football

Winner: Quarterback Peyton Manning

Established in 2008 to honor the life and legacy of the Chiefs founder and sports visionary, the Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football symbolizes the influence Hunt had in the development of professional football while also personifying his personal attributes. It is given annually to an individual, group or entity that has helped shape the NFL into the most prominent sports league in America. Previous winners have included NFL Films, Tony Dungy, Monday Night Football, Paul Tagliabue and last year's honoree, broadcasting legend Al Michaels, among a decade-long list of notable award recipients.

This year's winner was former Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, who rewrote the record books over his illustrious 17-year career.

"It was a tremendous honor to receive that call, and I don't really consider myself worthy of this award considering the past winners, but I'm certainly humbled and honored," Manning said. "Just what Mr. Hunt did for football, every NFL player should be thankful for everything that he did."

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Chiefs Hall of Fame Inductee

Former Chiefs' tight end Tony Gonzalez will be the newest member of the Chiefs Hall of Fame next fall following his prolific 17-year career in which he set franchise records for receptions, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns and 100-yard games. He's widely considered the best tight end to ever play the game, tallying the most catches, receiving yards and 100-yard games and the second-most touchdowns for any player at his position in NFL history.

"Few players in the history of this franchise, and in the NFL, have had a bigger impact on his position than Tony did as a tight end," Hunt said. "Since he's going to have to get used to hearing the term 'Hall of Fame' connected to his name over the next couple of years, it's our honor to be the first."

Gonzalez's name will be placed in the Ring of Honor at Arrowhead Stadium during Alumni Weekend sometime next season.  

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"I remember when I first got to Kansas City and I saw Marcus Allen and Derrick Thomas sitting there," Gonzalez recalled. "Then I went out to the field and saw all the names up there, guys like Len Dawson, and you don't even think about how eventually that could be me. To fast-forward to where we are now, it's almost surreal. Now I can have my name up there in that Ring of Honor for such a great organization with so much history."

AFC Coach of the Year

Winner: Doug Marrone (Jaguars)  

Marrone helped orchestrate one of the biggest turnarounds from the 2017 season, leading the Jacksonville Jaguars to a 10-6 record and their first division title since 1999. The Jaguars led the NFL in rushing offense (141.4 yards per game) and passing defense (169.9 yards per game), making it all the way to the AFC Championship Game.

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AFC Offensive Player of the Year

Winner: Wide receiver Antonio Brown (Steelers)

Brown put together another tremendous season in 2017, hauling in 101 catches for a league-leading 1,533 yards and nine touchdowns in just 14 games. The co-recipient of the 2014 AFC Offensive Player of the Year Award, Brown is the first player in NFL history to tally at least 100 catches in five-straight seasons.

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AFC Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Defensive end Calais Campbell (Jaguars)

The AFC's premier sack artist last season, Campbell managed to get to the quarterback a career-most 14.5 times in 2017. His efforts were fundamental in Jacksonville's dramatic turnaround in the standings as the Jaguars posted the league's second-best scoring defense.

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NFC Coach of the Year

Winner: Sean McVay (Rams)

Much like the Jaguars in the AFC, the Los Angeles Rams won the NFC West in 2017 after winning just four games in the year prior. At the center of that turnaround was McVay, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history at 31 years old, who led the Rams to a seven-win improvement from the previous year.

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NFC Offensive Player of the Year

Winner: Running back Todd Gurley (Rams)

Gurley was the workhorse for the NFL's top scoring offense, racking up 1,305 yards and 13 touchdowns on the ground. He was a weapon through the air as well, catching 64 passes for 788 yards and another six scores.

His 2,093 total yards from scrimmage and 19 touchdowns both led the league.

NFC Defensive Player of the Year

Winner: Defensive tackle Aaron Donald (Rams)

Donald was a force for the Rams along the defensive line, recording 11 sacks – leading all interior rushers - and an NFC-most five forced fumbles on the year. He registered a league-most 91 quarterback pressures, 12 more than any other player.

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