AFC Players Make HOF Cut, Manning Gets Comeback Player of the Year and the Patriots Want Wes Welker

By Debbie B.

On Saturday, former and current NFL players received accolades for their play. The day started with the paring down of the Hall of Fame finalists. At the end, seven made the last cut.

For players participating in the 2012 season, the Associated Press gave out its top NFL awards on Saturday. After heavily lobbying all season, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won the Player of the Year award while Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning grabbed the Comeback Player of the Year nod. On the defensive side, the leading contender got his recognition: Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt won the Defensive Player of the Year award and Bruce Arians from the Indianapolis Colts won Coach of the Year.

And in other AFC news, the New England Patriots are saying they still want diminutive wide receiver Wes Welker to remain with the team but will they show him the money?

AFC HOF Players

Former Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Curley Culp and Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Warren Sapp had been among the AFC favorites for this year’s Hall of Fame voting and voters came through as they made the Hall of Fame cut.

Culp played his first seven seasons with the Chiefs and was a member of their victorious Super Bowl IV team. He has also been inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.

Sapp played nine seasons at Tampa and his last four with the Oakland Raiders.

Additional AFC alumni included Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden and coach Bill Parcells.

After learning of his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Ogden expressed his excitement to watcher former teammate Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis at Sunday’s Super Bowl. Both had been drafted by the team in 1996.

Ogden said via ESPN, “It’s kind of a full circle weekend. With me and Ray, you couldn’t have written a better script over these two days because no one would’ve believed it.”

Players of the Year Awards

After taking the 2011 season off to recover from four neck surgeries, it didn’t stop Manning from returning to full former on his new team in 2012.

He led the Broncos to an AFC-best 13-3 record but fell short for postseason expectations. The team has already been seen as a top contender for 2013.

Manning said on Saturday via ESPN, “Certainly, you have double variables of coming off injury, not playing for over year and joining a new team. That certainly added a lot to my plate, so it was hard to really know what to expect. I can’t tell you how grateful and thankful I am. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be playing the game of football we all love so much.”

Texans J.J. Watt won his award after being the league’s 2012 leader at 20½ and a scaring opponent with his stellar pass blocking fiend. The player almost won be landslide, earning 49 of 50 possible votes from 50 media members, while Broncos linebacker Von Miller received one vote.

For Arians, he was just pinch hitting for Colts head coach Chuck Pagano while he underwent treatment for leukemia. He led the Colts to a 9-3 record and a trip to the playoffs. But his real prize was a trip to the playoffs.

Will Patriots cut a deal with Welker? 

For a second straight offseason, Welker is again looking for a long-term deal. Patriots owner Robert Kraft also his expressed his second consecutive hopes  the two can work something out.

Kraft said on Saturday, “I’d love for him to be around. He’s a great guy. Like I’ve said all along, it takes two sides to make a transaction. We have to manage the lawyers and the agents that they don’t mess it up. I think Wes wants to be with us, and we want him here. It’s just a matter of whether both sides can be intelligent.”