Quarterbacks DREW BREES of the New Orleans Saints, TOM BRADY of the New England Patriots and AARON RODGERS of the Green Bay Packers are the finalists for the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year honors, while running backs MAURICE JONES-DREW of the Jacksonville Jaguars, LeSEAN McCOY of the Philadelphia Eagles and RAY RICE of the Baltimore Ravens are the finalists for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year, the NFL announced today.
Fans can vote for one player in each category on NFL.com/FedEx until Friday, January 27 at 9 pm ET to determine the FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year.
The FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year will be announced on Wednesday, February 1 at a press conference during the week of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
FedEx will support education efforts at Junior Achievement by making a $25,000 donation in the Air and Ground winners' names. The funding, allocated to local Junior Achievement area offices in the winning players' city or state, is used to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs on how to start and grow their own small businesses.
This season, fans voted for more than their favorite player. FedEx introduced a new program called the FedEx Small Business of the Week - a program that has rewarded small business owners each week with $5,000 and the chance to go to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. As fans visit NFL.com/FedEx to vote for their favorite quarterback and running back, they can also cast their vote for one of three small business nominees. FedEx will award the Small Business of the Year with an all-inclusive trip to Super Bowl XLVI and a one-on-one meeting with a former NFL great.
A closer look at the FedEx Air NFL Player of the Year finalists:
- New England's TOM BRADY threw for 5,235 yards and 39 touchdowns in 2011 as he led the Patriots to a 13-3 record and the top seed in the AFC playoffs. His passing yardage total is the second highest in NFL history. Brady is the first quarterback in NFL history to amass three seasons with at least 36 touchdown passes. Brady's 8.57 yards per attempt average was second in the NFL in 2011, his 105.6 passer rating placed him third and his completion percentage and touchdown passes both ranked fourth. His Week 1 and Week 2 performances marked the first time in NFL history that a quarterback passed for 400 yards in a game after throwing for 500 yards in his previous outing. The AFC starting quarterback in the 2012 Pro Bowl, Brady was nominated for FedEx Air Player of the Week four times, winning once.
- New Orleans' DREW BREES set the single-season record for most passing yards with 5,476, eclipsing DAN MARINO's record of 5,084 yards set in 1984. Brees also set the NFL record for completion percentage (71.2) and most completions in a season (468). Brees, who was named to the NFC's 2012 Pro Bowl roster, led the NFL with 46 touchdowns passes and an average of 342 passing yards per game. His 110.6 passer rating ranked second in the NFL. Brees, who led the Saints to a 13-3 record in 2011, was nominated for FedEx Air Player of the Week honors seven times, winning the award three times. Brees has been named FedEx Air Player of the Year three times, most recently in 2009.
- Green Bay's AARON RODGERS completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 4,643 yards and 45 touchdowns. He set the NFL record for passer rating in a season, at 122.5, and is the first quarterback in NFL history to begin a season with 12 straight weeks with a passer rating of 110 or higher. Rodgers led the Packers to a 15-1 record in the regular season, the best mark in the league, and was named the NFC's starting quarterback for the 2012 Pro Bowl. His 9.25 yards per attempt were the highest in the NFL, and his passing touchdowns and completion percentage ranked second in the league. Rodgers was nominated eight times for FedEx Air Player of the Week honors, winning six times. Rodgers was named 2010 FedEx Air Player of the Year.
A closer look at the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Year finalists:
- Jacksonville's MAURICE JONES-DREW ran for 1,606 yards on 343 attempts in the 2011 season. He led the league in rushing yards and attempts, and was the only back in the NFL to average over 100 yards on the ground per game. He also added eight touchdowns. Jones-Drew was consistent, as he only had one game in which he rushed for less than 80 yards, and he eclipsed the 100-yard mark six times, including a season-high 169 yards in Week 17. Jones-Drew was nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week honors twice in 2011. He was named to the AFC's 2012 Pro Bowl roster.
- Philadelphia's LESEAN MCCOY ran for a league-high 17 touchdowns in 2011 and was named the NFC's starting running back in the 2012 Pro Bowl. His 1,309 rushing yards ranked fourth in the NFL. He averaged 4.8 yards per attempt, and led the NFL with 84 runs for a first down. His 17 rushing touchdowns (and 20 overall) broke Eagles' records that had stood since 1945. McCoy rushed for a season-high 185 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' Week 8 victory over the Dallas Cowboys. McCoy was nominated four times for FedEx Ground Player of the Week honors, winning twice.
- Baltimore's RAY RICE ran for 1,364 yards and 12 touchdowns on a 4.7 yards per carry average in 2011. His rushing yards was the second highest in the NFL, and his scores placed him in a tie for second among running backs. Rice eclipsed 200 rushing yards in the Ravens' Week 13 victory over the Cleveland Browns, and he nearly reached the 200 yard mark again in Week 17, as he tallied 191 yards on the ground to help the Ravens beat the Cincinnati Bengals and clinch a bye in the AFC playoffs. He was named the AFC's starting running back for the 2012 Pro Bowl for his efforts. Rice was nominated for FedEx Ground Player of the Week four times, winning twice.
As the Official Delivery Service Sponsor of the NFL, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl, FedEx created the Air & Ground program to highlight superior on-field performance among the league's top-performing quarterbacks and running backs, while supporting small business and providing relevant solutions that matter off-the-field. Follow FedEx on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter @FedExDelivers.