Maxwell Football Club President, Ron Jaworski, announced that Matt Ryan of the Atlanta Falcons has been selected as the winner of the 58th Bert Bell Professional Player of the Year Award, and also announced that Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio has been selected as the winner of the 28th Greasy Neale Professional Coach of the Year Award.
Ryan's 2015 season was spectacular as he led the Falcons to an 11-5 regular season record and an NFC South Championship. Ryan, the most statistically dominant quarterback on the league's best offense, lead the NFL in passing yards per attempt (9.26), yards per completion (13.3), and touchdown pass percentage (6.8 percent), and his 115.5 passer rating would rank fifth in NFL history. He passed for 4,944 yards and 38 touchdowns while throwing only 7 interceptions this season. During his career with the Falcons Ryan has passed for 37,701 yards and 240 touchdowns. He is the first Atlanta Falcons player to win the Bert Bell Award.
Ryan is completing his 9th year in the NFL and was drafted in the 1st round of the 2008 draft. He is a Philadelphia area native and attended the William Penn Charter School. As a collegiate player he was a standout for Boston College where he earned All-ACC 1st team honors twice and was named the ACC Player of the Year in 2007. He was the recipient of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and the Manning Award in 2007.
Ryan will be playing on Saturday in the NFC Championship Game. The Falcons opened the playoffs by defeating the Seattle Seahawks 36-20 to advance to the conference title game against the Green Bay Packers.
In his second season with the Raiders, Del Rio's record improved from 7-9 to 12-4. That record was the second best in the conference and the third best across the entire league.
Del Rio brought Oakland success on the gridiron that the city had not experienced in quite some time. His Raiders clinched a playoff berth as a Wild Card team, ending a 14 year drought without a postseason appearance. In his two years in Oakland, the Raiders are 19-13, which is the team's best two-year stretch since the early 2000s, when the team won the AFC Championship in 2002.
Del Rio began his coaching career as an assistant strength and linebacker coach with the New Orleans Saints. He was the linebacker coach on the Super Bowl XXXV-winning Baltimore Ravens, and defensive coordinator with the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos. He served as head coach of the league's Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003 until 2011 and took his second head coaching job, this time with the Raiders in January 2015.
Ryan and Del Rio will be honored Friday, March 10, 2017 at the 80th Maxwell Club National Awards Gala, which will be held at the Tropicana Casino Resort in Atlantic City, NJ. Also receiving awards at this event will be; Lamar Jackson – Louisville (Maxwell Award), Jonathan Allen - Alabama (Chuck Bednarik Award), Nick Saban – Alabama (George Munger College Coach of the Year Award), James Conner – University of Pittsburgh (The Thomas Brookshier Spirit Award), Trace McSorley – Penn State (Brian Westbrook Tri-State Player of the Year Award), James Franklin – Penn State (Tri-State Coach of the Year) and Steve Spurrier – South Carolina/Florida/Duke (The Francis Reds Bagnell Award for Contributions to Football). Other MFC Awards at the high school, college and professional levels will also be announced in early January.