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Williams runs away with Rookie of the Year

(Feb. 3, 2006) -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back Carnell" Cadillac" Williams was named the 2005 Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year, Pepsi and the National Football League announced.

More than 385,900 fans voted for the five finalists on NFL.com from Jan. 6 through Jan. 30 to determine which rookie would win the award. Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was named the 2004 Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Year. Houston Texans running back Domanick Davis won the award in 2003, while New York Giants tight end Jeremy Shockey won the inaugural award in 2002.

During the regular season and playoffs, more than one million fans voted for the Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and Rookie of the Year. NFL vice president of player and employee development Mike Haynes presented Williams with the award during a press conference in Detroit, the site of Super Bowl XL.

Williams set a Buccaneers single-season record with six 100-yard rushing games in 2005, including three to start the season. He finished with 1,178 yards and six touchdowns on 290 carries. Williams rushed for 148, 128 and 158 yards, respectively, in Weeks 1-3, announcing his arrival on the NFL scene. He provided the Buccaneers with several strong performances late in the season as the team made its playoff run, including a 112-yard, two-touchdown effort in a Week 14 victory over the NFC South rival Carolina Panthers, and a 150-yard, one-touchdown game in a Week 16 victory over the NFC South rival Atlanta Falcons. Williams, who attended Auburn University, was nominated for seven Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning three.

The five finalists were chosen after tabulating this season's fan voting. Each week, five nominees were chosen and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com.

Following were the five finalists for the 2005 Diet Pepsi Rookie of the Year:

Shawne Merriman, Linebacker San Diego Chargers
Lofa Tatupu, Linebacker Seattle Seahawks
Odell Thurman, Linebacker Cincinnati Bengals
DeMarcus Ware, Linebacker Dallas Cowboys
Cadillac Williams, Running Back Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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