LOS ANGELES - Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is grateful to be the NFL's 2021 NFL Comeback Player of the Year. But he's even more grateful how he got it in his hands without being at the NFL Honors in Thursday's nationally-televised awards ceremony.
Meanwhile, running mate Ja'Marr Chase crossed off one of his goals from the mirror when he was named the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after a stunning season he set league rookie records for yards in a season, game and postseason.
Bengals great Willie Anderson didn't make the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first season as one of the 15 finalists, but his biggest competition on the offensive line, fellow tackle Tony Boselli, did on his sixth try as a finalist in a class that included linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour and defensive lineman Bryant Young.
Burrow, who suffered a torn ACL on Nov. 22, 2020, came back to break every major team passing record while leading the Bengals to their first Super Bowl in 33 years. That's why he and Chase accepted their awards via satellite on a rooftop of the Bengals Super Bowl headquarters.
"It's nice to win the award. A lot of hard work went into it," Burrow said. Not just me. A lot of people. The most exciting part of the whole weekend is standing here not being at the ceremony getting ready to play a game."
The Bengals had a small watch party that included head coach Zac Taylor, wide receivers coach Troy Walters and a smattering of players, as well as Chase's parents.
"Feeling great. Playing in the Super Bowl makes it ten times better," said Chase, who thanked his parents and his coaches and teammates. "It just makes me believe in myself a lot more."
Now that Chasse has the first Bengals' NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year since Carl Pickens in 1992, he's got a new goal for 2022 besides winning a Super Bowl.
"The Triple Crown," said Chase of leading the league in yards, catches and touchdowns. "Triple Crown from here on in."
Anderson has known for weeks he didn't make it.
"Congratulations to the men and their families who made it tonight," Anderson said. "When we started, we knew it could possibly be a process. I've been fortunate to move up the list to a finalist this fast. I was more disappointed for Bengals fans, my family and friends.
"My coach Robert (Dr. Doom) Brazile waited for 30 years I pray my time for the HOF comes sooner, but I understand the process."