The Cincinnati Chapter of the Pro Football Writers of America today named S Jessie Bates III as the Bengals' 2020 Most Valuable Player and HB Giovani Bernard as the recipient of the organization's annual "Good Guy" award.
This marks the first MVP for Bates, in his third season out of Wake Forest. Bates finished as the top graded safety in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus, and led their stats in total interceptions plus passes defensed.
"Bates was a runaway winner, putting together one of the most impressive Bengals seasons by an individual defensive player in recent years," said Cincinnati Chapter President Paul Dehner Jr. "His playmaking was one of the primary weapons for the defense and helped hold together a side of the ball battling injuries all around him all season."
Other past MVP winners have been QB Jon Kitna (2002-03), HB Rudi Johnson ('04), QB Carson Palmer ('05), OT Willie Anderson ('06), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh ('07-08), CBs Leon Hall and Johnathan Joseph ('09), OT Andrew Whitworth ('10), QB Andy Dalton ('11 and '15), DT Geno Atkins ('12 and '17), LB Vontaze Burfict ('13), HB Jeremy Hill ('14), WR A.J. Green ('16), HB Mixon ('18) and Tyler Boyd ('19).
Bernard, in his eighth season, is the 20th recipient of the PFWA's "Good Guy" award, given for professionalism and cooperation with media and understanding the media's role in covering the team.
"In a tough year for everyone covering the league, Bernard's genuine thoughtfulness and honesty made a major difference in being on this beat." Dehner Jr. said. "His respect and helpfulness during so many of these challenging Zoom sessions was the latest example of a career full of professionalism toward the media."
Past "Good Guy" winners have been FB Lorenzo Neal (2001), OT Willie Anderson ('02), HB Brandon Bennett ('03), LB Brian Simmons ('04), DT John Thornton ('05), WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh ('06), DT Bryan Robinson ('07), G Bobbie Williams ('08), QB Carson Palmer ('09), HB Cedric Benson ('10), S Chris Crocker ('11), OT Andrew Whitworth ('12 and '15), DT Domata Peko ('13), DT Devon Still ('14), CB Dre Kirkpatrick ('16), DE Carlos Dunlap ('17), LB Vincent Rey ('18) and QB Andy Dalton ('19).