AW

NFL Honors 2013 – A Truly Entertaining Awards Show

In Sports, Television on February 3, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Alec Baldwin

Most awards shows seem to drag on forever as they honor the same things all night long.  Some have entertaining hosts, but often times, the hosts just add to the boredom.  Alec Baldwin, on the other hand, made sure that NFL Honors 2013 was entertaining from beginning to end, and ensured that it will be something that football fans look forward to each year.  You had to be a football fan to appreciate all of the jokes, but realistically, that is the target audience anyway.  The theater was filled with current and former NFL stars, all of whom were seen laughing whenever the camera panned to them to capture their reactions.

 

There was no subject that was too taboo for Baldwin to handle…

“It was a tough season for the Saints, who kept insisting that there isn’t, nor has there ever been, a bounty system in New Orleans.  And no one is hoping that’s more true than Commissioner Goodell.”  To his credit, Roger Goodell laughed, as he truly seemed to appreciate the humor.

 

Speaking about Peyton Manning…

“After four neck surgeries, he left Indy for Denver and led the Broncos to the AFC West title, capped off with 11 straight wins…Is it me, or did Peyton stop feeling the pain right around the time Colorado legalized marijuana?”  Peyton tried to hold in his laughter, but couldn’t contain himself.

 

On Adrian Peterson coming up nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s all-time rushing record and the replacement refs…

“Nine yards…do you know how short that is?…That’s like one first down to a replacement ref.  Remember those guys?  I know that Aaron Rodgers does.  Actually, some of the replacement refs are working this show tonight, including the guy running the teleprompter…and everything is going just fine…

“Hello, and welcome to the NFL Honors, banana underpants, next page, goodnight and thank you!”

 

On Archie Manning…

“A lot of folks in these parts consider Archie Manning to be the unofficial mayor of New Orleans.  Of course, if he were the real mayor, he would be on trial for corruption charges.  I’m just kidding, New Orleans politics is clean…like Ndamunkong Suh’s game.”

Baldwin’s monolog lasted just over ten minutes, and set the tone for an evening of entertainment amidst the presentation of awards.

 

Robert Griffin III (RG3) took home the Offensive Rookie of the Year Award, while Carolina Panther rookie LB, Luke Kuechley took home the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.

Bruce Arians was named Coach of the Year, the first time that an interim head coach has ever won the award.  Considering the circumstances that he faced with the Indianapolis Colts this year, this award was well-deserved.

J.J. Watt being named Defensive Player of the Year was no surprise at all, as he was in a class by himself this season.

 

One of the most meaningful awards of the evening was presented to Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.  He was named the winner of the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for the work that he has done outside of the gridiron in putting an end to domestic violence.  Witten’s father was abusive, so he understands what it’s like to live in that kind of environment.  He spoke about breaking the cycle of abuse, and not letting it continue from generation to generation.  Witten’s love and devotion for his own children is admirable given his upbringing, but being a “shining light” in the lives of other abused kids is the reason that Witten won this prestigious award.  With all of the negative headlines that come out of the NFL all too often, it was nice to see the good that players do for those less fortunate than themselves.

 

After Witten received his award, Baldwin took the stage again to lighten the mood with his comedy about more taboo subjects…

Talking about New York…

“Our area was hit pretty hard by a disaster of epic proportions this year.  Governor Christie estimates the recovery will take years, and cost upwards of $50 – $60 billion.  I’m talking, of course, about the New York Jets.  What a mess!”

“The only thing in football more imaginary than Manti Te’o’s girlfriend is the offensive package for (Tim) Tebow.”

 

The award presentations resumed with Adrian Peterson being named Offensive Player of the Year.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of the NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award.  There hasn’t been much love lost since their days together on the Green Bay Packers, so seeing Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers on stage together was something to behold.

 

RODGERS:  “We’re here to present the award for Comeback Player of the Year.”

FAVRE:  “You know Aaron, everyone loves it when a great player makes a comeback.”

RODGERS:  “Yeah, but not always.  You know some people wish that great players would just retire and stay retired.”

FAVRE: (Patting Rodgers on the back) “Good to see you too Aaron.”

RODGERS:  “Yeah, you too man.” 

After a fake attempt at a man hug, Rodgers looked at the audience and said…“that was awkward.”  It was awkward and uncomfortable to watch, but entertaining just the same.

 

The NFL Comeback Player of the Year Award was given to Peyton Manning, the only real choice for the award.  Peterson’s recovery was nothing short of miraculous, but the fact of the matter is that he didn’t miss any games because he was hurt at the end of last season.  Since he didn’t leave, he realistically couldn’t come back.

Manning accepted the award graciously, and added some comedy of his own to the situation…

“What a tremendous honor to receive this award from two of the best quarterbacks of all time…Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.  It sure is great to see the two of them up here together.  It’s great for football.  I feel  pretty confident, me and Andrew Luck will be up here presenting this award one day together.”

Luck gave an uncomfortable smile, but it is clear that he and Manning have a much better relationship than Favre and Rodgers.

 

For all of his comedy and sarcasm, Baldwin showed tremendous reverence when it came time to honor Steve Sabol, the creator of NFL Films who passed away earlier in the year.

“This past September, the NFL family lost one of its most beloved members.  A man who never played a down, coached a down, or owned a team, yet he was able to change the way we experience football.  It’s hard to even imagine a show like this without the work of the great Steve Sabol…Tonight we pay tribute to the greatest storyteller the world of sports has ever known with some of the iconic moments that Steve Sabol gave to us.”

It is impossible to be a football fan and not appreciate what Sabol has meant to the game, and while he may be gone, his legacy will live on forever through the NFL.

The NFL family lost a number of other people this year, and they were all acknowledged in a montage after the Sabol tribute.

 

NFL Honors was brilliantly produced, and a lot of credit should be given to Baldwin for being able to transition out of the more serious moments to bring some levity back to the room.

Baldwin walked up into the crowd to interview Commissioner Roger Goodell and Samantha Gordon – a 9-yr old football phenom whose YouTube video went viral and made her an Internet sensation.

 

BALDWIN:  “I’m here with NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and 9-yr old gridiron sensation, Sam Gordon, perhaps the most unstoppable player on any football field.”

GOODELL:  “Who knows Sam?  You may be the first woman to ever play in the NFL.  Would you like that?”

GORDON:  “No.  I’m coming after your job.” (The crowd erupted with laughter)

BALDWIN:  “Commissioner Gordon…I like the sound of that.”

GORDON:  “But first I want to try something easy, like hosting an awards show.”

The crowd erupted with laughter again as Baldwin gave a stoic look into the camera, and then gave her the chance to host as she announced the performance by the band One Republic.  Gordon was adorable and funny, but the musical interlude was the one unnecessary low-light of the evening.

 

The evening wound down with the announcement of the Play of the Year – Ray Rice’s incredible, improbable first down on a screen pass that occurred on fourth down with 29 yards to go, a play that may very well have been the stepping stone to the Ravens Super Bowl run.

The NFL Honors came to a close with the presentation of the MVP Award – given to Adrian Peterson, a running back who nearly broke the all-time rushing record on a surgically-repaired knee that usually keeps players out for at least 9 months.  Those who come back from ACL surgery typically take at least a full season to get back to normal.

In a quarterback-driven league, Peterson’s accomplishments stand out above all others even if he wasn’t coming back from a major injury.  He truly was the MVP, because without him, the Minnesota Vikings may very well have been picking at the top the draft rather than making the playoffs.

The NFL Honors is only in its second year, but if they can produce shows like this going forward, it will become a must-see over Super Bowl weekend for all football fans.

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