Outstanding performances by several veteran players and coaches during the 2003 NFL season resulted in five repeat selections among six award categories for the prestigious 101 Awards. The recipients, selected by a national media committee of 101 sportswriters and broadcasters, were announced Wednesday by the Committee of 101.
The Class of 2003 will be presented with their trophies at the 34th Annual 101 Awards, a nationally acclaimed pro football awards gala in Kansas City. The prestigious event is recognized as the nation's only awards dinner dedicated exclusively to the National Football League.
The player awards went to Peyton Manning, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts, as AFC Offensive Player of the Year; Ahman Green, running back of the Green Bay Packers, as NFC Offensive Player of the Year; Ray Lewis, linebacker of the Baltimore Ravens, as AFC Defensive Player of the Year; and Michael Strahan, defensive end of the New York Giants, as NFC Defensive Player of the Year. The coaching awards went to Bill Belichick of the Super Bowl-bound New England Patriots as AFC Coach of the Year and to Bill Parcells of the Dallas Cowboys as NFC Coach of the Year.
The six honorees will be presented with trophies at the annual NFL 101 Awards Gala, presented by Bank of America, a black-tie civic salute to professional football. The awards dinner was founded in 1969 to honor the top players and coaches in the NFL each year. The 34th annual banquet is scheduled for Saturday, March 6, 2004 at the Westin Crown Center Hotel.
"This year's award winners are certainly showing longevity of success in the National Football League," said Bill Nelson, Chairman of the Committee of 101. "We will be honored to host several individuals who are establishing Hall of Fame careers in professional football. It will make the 34th annual event one of the finest yet."
In addition to the six national winners, the banquet will recognize the Chiefs 2003 Derrick Thomas MVP recipient, quarterback Trent Green, and the Mack Lee Hill Award co-winners, rookie defensive players Jimmy Wilkerson and Kawika Mitchell. Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt will also induct the 34th member into the team's Hall of Fame.
A limited number of tickets at $150 are available for this year's Salute to Professional Football. Ticket information should be directed to Annette Coyne at (816) 920-4409. The 101 Banquet is sponsored by the Committee of 101 and serves as a benefit for the Chiefs Children's Fund, a 501(c)3 Foundation that distributes funds to various children's charities throughout the Kansas City area.
ABOUT THE 2003 AWARD WINNERS
NFC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ahman Green; Running Back; Green Bay Packers
- Green's 1,883 yards were the most ever by a player who did not win the NFL rushing title. He tied for seventh in league history.
- Broke the Packers all-time rushing record and is now second in team history next to Jim Taylor.
- Scored more touchdowns (20) than anyone in Packers history.
- Including postseason, Green did not fumble over his last 246 offensive touches.
AFC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Peyton Manning; Quarterback; Indianapolis Colts
- Put together the best season of an already brilliant career, throwing for a league-most 4,267 yards, 29 TDs and compiling a 99.0 QB rating.
- In his first six NFL seasons, Manning has produced the six best seasons in Colts history in passing yards, completions and attempts.
- He is the only NFL player ever to throw for 3,000 yards in each of his first six seasons.
- Was nearly flawless in his playoff game performance here at Arrowhead and is now headed for his 4th Pro Bowl.
- This is his second 101 award, winning AFC Offensive Player of the Year honors in 1999.
NFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Michael Strahan; Defensive End; New York Giants
- Regarded by many as the premier defensive end in the game today and certainly one of the top pass rushers in recent NFL history.
- Was the NFL leader in quarterback sacks again this year with 18 1/2.
- Set an NFL single-season record with 22.5 sacks in 2001 and earned his first 101 award that year.
AFC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Ray Lewis; Linebacker; Baltimore Ravens
- Has been named the 101 AFC Defensive Player of the Year in three of the last four seasons.
- Is widely regarded as the most dominant defensive player in recent NFL history.
- Leader of a ferocious Baltimore defense that annually ranks at or among the top in the NFL.
- His 2003 totals include 161 tackles, a personal record 6 interceptions, one touchdown and 2 fumble recoveries.
NFC COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill Parcells, Dallas Cowboys
- Has proven himself as one of the most successful head coaches in NFL history.
- Was hired by Jerry Jones to take over the Dallas Cowboys this season and directed the team to a remarkable turnaround.
- The Cowboys finished with a 10-6 record and secured a Wild Card playoff spot; a vast improvement from the previous year's 5-11 mark.
- Put together the NFL's top-ranked defense, allowing just 253 yards per game.
- Wins his second 101 award; was the NFC's Coach of the Year in 1986 with the New York Giants.
AFC COACH OF THE YEAR
Bill Belichick, New England Patriots
- Led the Patriots to an amazing season that now includes an NFL-record 14 consecutive wins and a berth in Super Bowl XXXVIII.
- Hired by Bob Kraft in 2000 and, in just his second season as head coach, took New England to its first ever Super Bowl Championship.
- Now, two years later, he's headed to the title game again after winning the AFC Championship with a convincing win last Sunday over the Colts.
- Received the 101 AFC Coach of the Year award two years ago after his first Super Bowl appearance.