TAMPA – Drew Brees was named the winner of the FedEx Air Player of the Year for his outstanding on-the-field efforts this past season. The award was presented to Brees today in front of a packed news conference in the Tampa Bay Convention Center during Super Bowl XLIII festivities.
Brees was presented the award and a check for $25,000 to the Safe Kids Coalition of Louisiana Foundation by former New York Giants great QB Phil Simms, who is currently the lead game analyst for CBS Sports' NFL coverage.
"I used to be amazed when I was close to throwing for 4,000 yards in a season," Simms remarked before presenting the award to Brees. "I can't even image what it was like to throw for over 5,000 yards in a season. What a season Drew had, it was something to behold."
Brees was quick to thank Simms, FedEx and especially his teammates, coaches and Head Coach Sean Payton for the award. "I think the best thing about this award is that $25,000 is being donated to child safety programs in New Orleans. That is what this is really about," Brees said. "I am fortunate. I play with great teammates, in front of great fans and we have great coaches. I am just out there trying to get the football to the open guys."
Brees demonstrated his offensive air attack leading the NFL in pass attempts (635), pass completions (413), passing yards (5,069) and completions of 25 yards or more (35). His 5,069 passing yards establish him as the second player in NFL history to surpass the 5,000 yard mark. Brees is the only Saint to pass for more than 4,000 yards in three consecutive seasons and his 34 touchdowns are a franchise record. Brees' season began with a 24-20 win against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in which he completed 23 of 32 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns. Brees posted ten 300 yard performances, tying an NFL record, including two games where he surpassed the 400-yard mark. Brees was nominated for five FedEx Air NFL Player of the Week awards in 2008, winning twice.
In true and typical Brees fashion, the humble signal-caller pointed out that it was the fans that voted that decided the winner of the award. Brees beat out New Orleans native Peyton Manning and Cardinals QB Kurt Warner for the award, which marks the second time he has captured the award in his three seasons with the Saints (also won it in 2006).
"The fans are the ones that took the time out of their day to vote and I appreciate that they thought enough of us to cast a vote," the Saints quarterback said. "The reality is when you throw for 5,000 yards it's a tribute to working with the top offensive mind in the game today and that's Sean Payton and having great coaches and players around you that take pride in their work."
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson captured the FedEx Ground Player of the Year after he became the first Vikings running back to earn an NFL rushing title with 1,760 yards. The 1,760 rushing yards and his ten 100-yard games established new franchise single-season rushing records in both categories. Peterson averaged 110.0 yards per game on the ground in 2008 to break his own Vikings record for a season set in 2007 at 96.0 yards per game. Peterson also became the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 3,000 yards in their first two seasons. Continuing to demonstrate his dominance in the field, Peterson amassed 192 yards and one touchdown on 30 carries in the Vikings' Week 10 28-27 win over the Green Bay Packers. Peterson was nominated for four FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week awards in 2008, winning three times.
In honor of the winners' outstanding play, FedEx is donating $25,000 to the Safe Kids USA coalitions in New Orleansand Minneapolis, the local chapters in each player's market. In addition, the Tampa Safe Kids coalition received a $25,000 donation the week before Super Bowl XLIII.
Brees and Peterson were selected from a panel of three finalists in each of their respective Air and Ground categories. The finalists were chosen by a panel of NFL experts based on the season's fan voting. The other FedEx Air NFL Players of the Year finalists were quarterbacksPeyton Manningof the Indianapolis Colts and Kurt Warnerof the Arizona Cardinals, while the FedEx Ground NFL Players of the Year finalists included running backs Michael Turnerof the Atlanta Falcons and DeAngelo Williamsof the Carolina Panthers.
More than 1,156,000 fan votes were cast at NFL.com from Monday, January 5 through Friday, January 23, to decide the winners.
For the fifth season in a row, the Air & Ground program was a win for the local community. As part of this season's Air & Ground program, FedEx teamed up with Safe Kids USA – a national non-profit organization that works to prevent accidental injury among children – to deliver safe kids. Throughout the season, FedEx made weekly $1,000 donations in the names of the Air & Ground NFL Players of the Week to their local Safe Kids coalitions to fund pedestrian safety improvements. Some examples of these pedestrian safety improvements include:
This year, FedEx surpassed the $1 million mark in funding to create safer communities for children as part of the Air & Ground Program.