NEW ORLEANS -- A pair of Tennessee stars captured major NFL Honors on Saturday night at the league's annual event. Peyton Manning was named the NFL Comeback Player of the Year and Jason Witten was honored as the NFL Man of the Year.
Manning also finished second in the NFL voting for MVP. It is the seventh time he finished in the top two in the voting for MVP as he won the award in 2003, 2004, 2008 and 2009. He also finished second in 1999 and 2005 in addition to this season.
A year ago, Peyton Manning didn't know if he would ever play again. Now he's the 2012 Associated Press NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
The Denver Broncos quarterback won the award Saturday night at "NFL Honors," edging Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. Manning sat out the entire 2011 season with neck problems that took four different surgeries to correct and led to the end of his 14-season run with the Indianapolis Colts. He signed with the Broncos in March and put together one of the best statistical seasons of his NFL career.
Manning had a league-best 68.6 percent completion percentage with 37 touchdown passes, 11 interceptions and a 105.8 passer rating. He led the Broncos to a 13-3 record and the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
Manning's win counts as something of an upset ... at least if you're Peterson. The Vikings star said he believed he had the Comeback Player award "in the bag." That didn't turn out to be the case, but Manning certainly is deserving of this honor.
Here's what Manning had to say:
"I used to always say this was an award I never wanted to have, because it meant having a significant injury and missing some time. I will say for any young player out there, if they do get injured I wish they would be as fortunate as I was to receive the kind of help and support from all kind of people from all different places. Denver, Duke University, coaches, trainers, doctors who have supported me. Family members. I'm very grateful to be back playing this game.
"You just go out there and play, you don't think about the individual awards. You accept them on behalf of your teammates. And so the comeback player of the year, I'd like to thank the entire Broncos organization -- the coaches, the players, the support people for helping me get out there and getting back on the field and having a positive return to football."''
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was named 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year at "NFL Honors" on Saturday night in recognition of his off-the-field community service and playing excellence.
The eight-time Pro Bowler is active in several non-profit organizations, and serves as the Dallas Cowboys' spokesman for "NFL Play 60" -- a program which encourages children to be active for 60 minutes a day in order to reverse childhood obesity. Witten also has his own charitable endeavor in the SCORE Foundation, which has helped fun several building projects in Texas and his native Tennessee.
Witten has also dedicated himself to stopping domestic violence. Witten's JWSF SCOREkeepers program utilizes male mentors working with children living in battered women's shelters to demonstrate positive male behavior.
"I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees," Witten said in a statement. "I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team -- but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate -- to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was. Like others before me, I have a great opportunity as an NFL player to make a difference in the lives of others."
Jarrett and Brittney Payton, the children of NFL great Walter Payton's, will honor Witten at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday before kickoff of Super Bowl XLVII.
Witten joins an esteemed list of winners of the annual award, including 17 Pro Football Hall of Famers.
Here's what Witten said after winning the award:
"I am extremely flattered to be chosen the 2012 Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year from such an esteemed group of nominees," Witten said in a statement. "I work hard every day not only to be a success on the football field and a credit to my team -- but to be a good husband, father, son, grandson, teammate -- to be the kind of man that is as respected as Walter Payton was. Like others before me, I have a great opportunity as an NFL player to make a difference in the lives of others. It is honestly humbling to be recognized in such a manner for simply doing what I feel is right and human. I am fortunate to have a great support system in my family, the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL which allows me to make an impact in the communities and with people who love our game."