That award went to Terrell Suggs at the inaugural NFL Honors event, which was held in conjunction with the annual awards by the 50-member Associated Press awards panel.
In all, seven different players received votes for Defensive Player of the Year. Suggs won with 21 first-place votes, followed by Allen, who garnered 14 votes. Others receiving votes were 49ers DE Justin Smith (six), Jason Pierre-Paul of the Giants (five), 49ers LBs Patrick Willis (two) and NaVorro Bowman (one), and Packers cornerback Charles Woodson (one).
In a much wider voting disparity, Aaron Rodgers ran away with the MVP balloting, landing 48 of 50 votes for that honor. Drew Brees of the Saints received the other two votes.
Brees did get a nice consolation prize, however, being named Offensive Player of the Year, winning 43 of the 50 votes. Rodgers got the other seven votes, including at least five votes in which he was named both MVP and Offensive Player of the Year.
Jim Harbaugh of the 49ers was the runaway winner of the NFL Coach of the Year Award, earning 45 of the 50 votes. Mike McCarthy of the Packers had three votes and John Fox of Denver had the other two.
Matthew Stafford won the Comeback Player of the Year honor with 21 of 50 votes. In all, seven players received votes. Only three of them had more than three votes – Stafford, Cleveland's D'Qwell Jackson (15) and San Francisco's Alex Smith (seven).
Former Viking Matt Birk, who was always one of the most active players in the community during his decade with the Vikings with his HIKE Foundation, was honored for his child literacy advocacy, being named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Among the thank-yous he gave out was Birk recognizing the Vikings for their commitment to his foundation and helping it get its start through the team's community outreach program.
"I am honored and truly humbled to be named the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year," Birk said. "This award is not about the recipient, but rather a celebration of the decades-long tradition of NFL players using their unique platform to touch lives and make a positive and lasting impact in the communities in which they work and live. Walter Payton left a legacy that went beyond the playing field. He continues to be an inspiration and example of what a complete NFL player should aspire to become."
Birk's "Ready, Set, Read" program reaches close to 100,000 children in the Baltimore area and motivates students to read at home through an incentive-based system. Birk has also agreed to donate his brain and spinal cord tissue to the Center for Traumatic Encephalopathy at Boston University's School of Medicine to help assist in researching the effects of repeated head traumas. He is an eight-time Man of the Year (seven with the Vikings, one with the Ravens), and was a finalist for the national award in 2008.
Birk became the second player associated with the Vikings in three years to be honored with the award. Following the 2010 season, Vikings safety Madieu Williams was honored with the award.
In other awards handed out at the inaugural NFL Honors show, Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was named Offensive Rookie of the Year (a category in which Christian Ponder was one of the finalists). Newton was also named the Pepsi Rookie of the Year recipient. Denver linebacker Von Miller was named Defensive Rookie of the Year. Tim Tebow's comeback win over the Bears was named the GMC "Never Say Never" Moment of the Year. The NFL.com Fantasy Player of the Year was Detroit's Calvin Johnson. The Play of the Year was given to Green Bay's Randall Cobb for his 108-yard kickoff return against the Saints.
If not for NBC shamelessly promoting its own shows and stars – from Alec Baldwin ("30 Rock") hosting to late night talk-show host Jimmy Fallon and the stars of other shows being strategically placed on stage and in the crowd, the inaugural NFL Honors came off without a hitch. Unlike the other numerous awards show, nobody got played off for speaking too long and, while they had the good sense not to call it the First Annual (there is no such thing), you can bet there will be more such presentations in the future, as the NFL basks in its own reflective glory.
SUPER SUNDAY NOTES
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.