When the league decided last year to make the unofficial Associated Press postseason awards quasi-official by announcing each of them on NFL Network during the week before the Super Bowl, we reported that a full-blown awards should could be coming, and we predicted that said show would indeed happen.
A year later, it is.
The league has announced that Alec Baldwin will host the inaugural NFL Honors on the evening before the Super Bowl, from the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis. The event will be televised by NBC on February 4, at 9:00 p.m. ET.
Produced by NFL Network, the show will announce the winners of the seven AP awards (MVP, offensive player of the year, defensive player of the year, comeback player of the year, coach of the year, offensive rookie of the year, and defensive rookie of the year), along with the Pepsi rookie of the year, NFL.com’s fantasy player of the year, the Madden most valuable protectors award, the Don Shula NFL high school coach of the year, the Walter Payton NFL man of the year, the “fantastic finish of the year,” the play of the year, and a salute to service award.
The non-AP awards typically were distributed via a series of press conferences throughout the week of the Super Bowl. The Walter Payton NFL man of the year had been announced on the field before the start of the Super Bowl.
Now, all of the awards will be consolidated and unveiled in one two-hour block.
But the delaying of the announcement of the awards until February 4 highlights the problem with voting on the awards on January 2 based on the regular season and handing them out on the eve of the climax to the postseason. Last year, when Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named league MVP nearly three weeks after a one-and-out postseason performance, some fans scratched their heads. This year, if the Packers should lose in the division round and Brady’s Pats and the Saints and Drew Brees are preparing to play in the Super Bowl, it will seem strange, to say the least, for Rodgers to be hoisting the MVP hardware the night before the game.
Assuming Rodgers would even show up for the event, what would his acceptance speech be? “Thanks for the honor. I’d trade 20 of these to be at the team hotel tonight.”
And so if the awards are going to be distributed the night before the last game of the season, the awards need to take into account everything that happened up to that point. Otherwise, the casual fans that the league hopes to attract by televising the game on broadcast TV will be confused, to say the least.