PHOENIX – Aaron Rodgers became the ninth player to win multiple NFL MVP awards.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback was an overwhelming winner of the award announced Saturday night at the NFL Honors Award Show. In a vote conducted by the Associated Press among 50 select media members, Rodgers received 31 votes, which put him ahead of Houston defensive lineman J.J. Watt's 13. The other votes went to Dallas quarterback Tony Romo (two), Dallas running back DeMarco Murray (two), New England quarterback Tom Brady (one) and Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner (one).
Rodgers also won the award in 2011 and is one of five players who have won the award twice. The four others are Joe Montana, Brady, Kurt Warner and Steve Young.
Peyton Manning is the all-time MVP leader with five, followed by three players who have won it three times (Brett Favre, Johnny Unitas and Jim Brown). Manning coincidentally presented Rodgers with the award Saturday night, just as he did when Rodgers won for 2011.
"It's a great list, to be mentioned with those (multiple winners) is an honor," Rodgers said at a press conference after he received the award. "Like I said up there (during the show), Peyton, he set the gold standard, him and Tom Brady as far as quarterback play in my generation, and Peyton's won it five times. That's incredible.
"But twice is nice. It just means that there's been some consistent play, and that's what I've prided myself on and a consistent approach every week and good preparation and making the plays that my teammates expect me to make."
Rodgers also was a finalist for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, but Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis won that.
Rodgers wouldn't have been able to appear at the awards show Saturday night if the Packers had advanced to play in today's Super Bowl. As such, winning the award was bittersweet because in the NFC championship game, the Packers had the ball and a 12-point lead over Seattle in the final five minutes but lost in overtime.
"It's a great honor," Rodgers said. "But at the same time you can't help thinking about what could have been. We were five minutes away from playing tomorrow. Makes it kind of tough. But this is the time of year you kind of reflect back on the season and start to have a little bit of pride in the things you were able to do."
Rodgers won the award on the strength of a regular season in which led the Packers to a 12-4 record, finished with the league's second-best passer rating (112.2, just behind Tony Romo's 113.2) and had the highest differential of touchdown passes to interceptions (plus-33, with 38 touchdowns and five interceptions).
It wasn't quite as good a year statistically as when he won the MVP in '11. That season he had a 122.5 rating and threw 45 touchdown passes to only six interceptions.
"This (season) to me was more satisfying," Rodgers said. "With the weapons we had in '11 and the way we won those games scoring that many points, this was more a grind it out balance at times. So there was even a greater onus, especially on time of possession deficit that we had, especially in the first half of the season, there was a big onus on taking care of the football. I was proud of the fact that we limited our turnovers on offense and personally we made a lot of stuff happen."
The Packers now have won eight league MVPs: Rodgers this year and in '11; Favre in '96, '97 and '98; Bart Starr in '66; Jim Taylor in '62; and Paul Hornung in '61.
Rodgers said his injured calf is feeling better but that he's still several weeks away from working out at full speed. He takes a month off from strenuous work at the end of the season anyway, so the injury won't set back his offseason training much.
"That's another frustrating part of this," Rodgers said, referring to the loss in the NFC championship "I feel pretty good. I haven't done anything, but I've felt pretty good to where I might have been 75 or 80 percent this weekend if we'd been playing."
Coach Mike McCarthy, whose brother Joe died two weeks ago, traveled to Phoenix late this week to be in the audience when Rodgers won the award.
"It's tough," Rodgers said. "Actually as I was spanning the crowd in my speech today I saw him and I immediately got choked up because Mike and I are so close. I forgot the rest of my planned speech because all I could think about was seeing him – I wasn't at the funeral, but seeing him and knowing what he went through and talking to him a little bit about how difficult it was to lose his younger brother.
"My younger brother and I have a very close relationship and I can imagine how difficult it would be to lose him in that way. I feel for him. He had an incredible amount of support at the funeral and throughout the last couple weeks."