Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who followed a Super Bowl MVP performance early this year with perhaps the greatest regular season in NFL history, has been named the Associated Press male athlete of the year for 2011.
Rodgers got 112 votes from the 212 American news organizations that voted for the award, easily outpacing the second-place finisher, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, who had 50 votes. Tennis player Novak Djokovic was third with 21 votes, and Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, who started the year by winning a national championship at Auburn, was fourth with six votes.
Rodgers is the third NFL quarterback to win the athlete of the year award in the last five years, following Drew Brees in 2010 and Tom Brady in 2007. He described it as “surreal” to be mentioned alongside the greatest athletes in any sport.
“Those guys are household names, the best of the best,” Rodgers said. “[It's] special to win the award, and something I’ll remember.”
And the year Rodgers had in 2011 is something football fans will remember.