2023’s Top Contenders for Best NFL Player ESPY Award

Every year, the ESPY Awards honor the standout achievements in sports, and there’s always a buzz around who’ll snag the Best NFL Player award. It’s a prestigious accolade that celebrates the crème de la crème of football talent, recognizing exceptional performance on the gridiron.

In this article, they’ll dive into the history, significance, and past winners of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award. They’ll explore what it takes to earn this coveted trophy and who’s in the running for the upcoming ceremony. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or just love a good sports story, this piece promises insights into one of the NFL’s highest honors.

History of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award

Since its inception in 1993, the Best NFL Player award at the ESPYs has been a barometer for excellence in the National Football League. The award’s prestige stems from its unique voting process which involves sports fans worldwide, who cast their votes online, and this democratized selection method has only fueled the anticipation and honor associated with winning.

Throughout the years, winners have often been those who demonstrate exceptional skill, remarkable statistics for the season, and an undeniable impact on their team’s success. Such high-caliber performances have catapulted players into the distinguished circle of ESPY award recipients.

Year Best NFL Player
2020 Lamar Jackson
2019 Patrick Mahomes
2018 Tom Brady
2017 Aaron Rodgers
2016 Cam Newton

The table above showcases a few recent winners of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award, reflecting a trend where quarterbacks frequently receive the accolade. However, it’s not just the offensive powerhouses who earn recognition. Defensive giants and outstanding skill position players have also left their mark, attesting to the award’s all-encompassing nature which seeks to highlight the very best talent the league has to offer.

One of the most decorated NFL players in terms of ESPYs is Peyton Manning, whose mastery of the quarterback position earned him the award multiple times. His ability to read defenses and lead his team to victory set a benchmark for future athletes aspiring to earn the honor.

As the NFL evolves, so do the metrics for excellence. With the award being reflective of both player statistics and contributions to the team’s results, it remains an ever-relevant indicator of NFL prowess. As fans eagerly await the next set of nominees, they know that those in contention will have demonstrated not just individual brilliance but also the ability to bring others to new heights—a true measure of an NFL great.

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Significance of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award

The Best NFL Player ESPY Award is more than just a trophy; it’s a beacon of excellence within the sporting community. Symbolizing the highest honor for individual achievement, this award distinguishes an athlete’s dominance over both the season and their peers. Fans and players alike recognize its importance as it takes into account a plethora of factors beyond just statistical performance. Physical prowess, leadership, and the ability to clutch performance under pressure are all aspects that define the ESPY’s best NFL player.

Not only does the award signal peer and public acknowledgment, but it also correlates with a player’s marketability. Recipients often experience a surge in endorsement opportunities and fanbase growth. This spotlight validates their hard work and boosts their profiles, catapulting careers to new heights.

Critics and enthusiasts turn their attention to the ESPY Awards as they often spark conversations about a player’s standing in NFL history. The recognition can cement an athlete’s legacy, placing them among the pantheon of the sport’s greatest. For upcoming talent, the award serves as an aspirational goal, a reminder of the level of commitment and skill required to reach the top echelons of the sport.

To truly understand the weight of the Best NFL Player ESPY, one must consider the varied background of its recipients. It’s notable that the award isn’t reserved for a specific position; quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers have all laid claim. Versatility and impact across various roles in the game underscore the award’s comprehensive nature.

The table below outlines some of the key qualities and achievements of typical ESPY winners:

Quality Description
Athletic Excellence Superior physical skills and the ability to perform consistently at a high level
Leadership A player’s influence on their team, ability to inspire and direct on and off the field
Statistical Success Impressive numbers that contribute significantly to the team’s overall performance
Clutch Ability Performance in high-pressure situations, often changing the course of the game
Versatility The skill to adapt and excel in multiple positions or aspects within the sport of football
Legacy Long-term impact on the sport, potentially changing the way the game is played or perceived

Past Winners of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award

The Best NFL Player ESPY Award has been bestowed upon a venerable procession of athletes, each leaving an indelible mark on the sport. These individuals exemplify exceptional talent, unwavering dedication, and a commanding presence on the field that often transcends their era.

Peyton Manning, a quarterback renowned for his cerebral approach to football, has garnered the award multiple times. His pinpoint accuracy and ability to read defenses have etched his name into the annals of NFL history. Likewise, Tom Brady, another quarterback with an unparalleled sense of competitiveness and strategic acumen, has also claimed this prestigious accolade on numerous occasions.

Year Winner Position
2022 Aaron Rodgers Quarterback
2021 Patrick Mahomes Quarterback
2020 Michael Thomas Wide Receiver
2019 Patrick Mahomes Quarterback
2018 Aaron Rodgers Quarterback

Reflecting on the list of past winners, it’s evident that quarterbacks frequently receive the accolade, a testament to the supreme importance of the position in the sport. The leadership and influence a quarterback wields can pivot an entire season, placing them often in the spotlight for this honor.

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Yet, the award does not solely glorify quarterbacks. Other position players have broken through, showcasing that the road to being named the best is not exclusive to the field generals. Wide receivers such as Jerry Rice and running backs like Barry Sanders have proved that extraordinary skill and impact aren’t confined to just one position.

These professionals’ achievements illustrate mastery and often reflect their ability to elevate the entire team’s performance. Their recognition as Best NFL Player serves as not just a personal triumph but also an acknowledgment of their vital role in sculpting the game’s landscape.

Season after season, the Best NFL Player ESPY validates superlative performance, leaving the recipient’s mark not only on that year but potentially influencing the standards for the seasons that follow.

Criteria for Winning the Best NFL Player ESPY Award

When it comes to doling out the Best NFL Player ESPY Award, the criteria are rigorous and multifaceted. Performance throughout the season is, without a doubt, the most critical factor. Players who have demonstrated outstanding abilities, racked up impressive statistics, and made pivotal plays are typically front-runners. In essence, a candidate’s impact on their team’s success is heavily scrutinized.

Stats, however, don’t paint the full picture. The ESPYs also consider an athlete’s leadership qualities and influence on and off the field. Those who inspire teammates and display sportsmanship may have an edge, as the award seeks not only to identify the most skilled athlete but also the one who embodies the spirit of the sport.

Individual accolades that candidates may have garnered throughout the year, such as MVP awards, Pro Bowl selections, and All-Pro team designations, also contribute to their eligibility for the ESPY. These honors reflect a consensus among experts and fans alike regarding a player’s excellence.

Furthermore, the ESPY Award for the Best NFL Player isn’t confined to those playing high-profile positions like quarterbacks. Though QBs are often in the limelight, the award has gone to players from a variety of positions, illustrating that any player who has had a significant impact can be deemed deserving. Versatility and the ability to contribute to a team’s win in multiple ways are valued traits.

To stand a chance at claiming the ESPY, a player must have not only showcased exceptional skill but must also have risen to prominence by defining moments that capture the essence of NFL greatness. Highlight-reel-worthy plays and game-changing performances during critical matchups often sway voters when they’re determining who among the best epitomizes the league’s elite for that season.

Bear in mind that fan opinions are part of the equation. Popular vote plays a role, and a player’s rapport with the public can tip the scales in their favor. This fan engagement aspect ensures that the awarded athlete resonates with the audience’s view of excellence in the sport.

Contenders for the Upcoming Best NFL Player ESPY Award

With the season unfolding, standout contenders for the upcoming Best NFL Player ESPY Award are beginning to emerge. Quarterbacks, often in the highlight reel, are notably in the mix due to their pivotal roles in orchestrating the offense and pulling off breathtaking comebacks. However, it’s not just the signal-callers who are turning heads; versatile running backs and dynamic wide receivers are making a case for themselves with their yards gained and touchdowns scored.

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The defensive side isn’t without its stars either. Defensive ends and linebackers, known for their game-changing sacks and interceptions, are making significant impacts each week. Their prowess in changing the momentum of the game positions them as strong candidates for the coveted award. Safety and cornerback positions are also not to be overlooked, with their pass breakups and coverage skills proving fundamental to their teams’ successes.

Special teams players, while often under the radar, are making notable contributions. A clutch field goal or a timely punt return can be the difference between a win or a loss, bringing these players into consideration for their game-deciding plays.

Key players who’ve received individual accolades such as MVP awards and Pro Bowl selections earlier in the season or in previous seasons maintain steady traction in the conversation for the Best NFL Player ESPY Award. Their consistent excellence and ability to elevate team performance during critical moments keep them in the spotlight.

Rising stars are breaking out, challenging the status quo, and redefining positions. These young athletes, with their fresh legs and innovative play-making, provide a breath of fresh air to the league and excitement for fans. It’s these game influencers, alongside seasoned veterans, who create an enthralling race for the Best NFL Player ESPY Award each year.


The Best NFL Player ESPY Award epitomizes the pinnacle of gridiron glory. It’s a testament to those athletes whose performances have left an indelible mark on the season. While the spotlight often shines on quarterbacks and high-profile playmakers, it’s the players’ overall impact on the game that truly sets them apart. With every bone-crushing tackle, game-winning touchdown, and leadership moment, these contenders prove that excellence isn’t just about statistics—it’s about elevating the game. As fans cast their votes and debate their favorites, one thing remains clear: the recipient of this prestigious award embodies the spirit, skill, and heart of football at its finest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What determines the Best NFL Player ESPY Award winner?

The winner’s performance throughout the season is the most critical factor, including outstanding abilities, impressive statistics, pivotal plays, leadership qualities, and influence on and off the field.

Do all positions in the NFL have a chance to win the ESPY?

Yes, players from all positions, including but not limited to quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers, and defensive players, can win the Best NFL Player ESPY Award.

How important are individual accolades when considering a player for the ESPY?

Individual accolades like MVP awards and Pro Bowl selections significantly contribute to a player’s eligibility for the Best NFL Player ESPY Award.

Can versatility affect a player’s chances of winning the ESPY?

Versatility and the ability to contribute in multiple ways are highly valued traits that can enhance a player’s chances of winning.

Are fans involved in the voting process for the ESPY Award?

Yes, fan opinions and the popular vote play a role in determining the winner of the Best NFL Player ESPY Award.

Are standout contenders for the ESPY exclusively experienced players?

No, both key players who have received individual accolades and rising stars are in the conversation for the award, not just experienced players.

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