SANTA CLARA It was heroic and tragic and gut-wrenching all at once. And it happened – over and over – in front of 56 million viewers.
NaVorro Bowman’s knee injury, which came as he stripped the ball from a Seahawks receiver in the NFC Championship Game, probably did more for his Defensive Player of the Year chances than anything all season.
It came amid another outstanding performance by the 49ers inside linebacker. He led the team in tackles that day and had a sack. And it came just when the Seahawks were gaining momentum and the 49ers had to have a game-altering play.
But continuing the theme of tragedy and loss and life’s not fair, it’s unlikely to put Bowman over the top.
The NFL’s end-of-season honors will be announced Saturday in an Oscars-like awards show at Radio City Music Hall in New York. And the award for best defensive player likely will go to either Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, 49ers public enemy No. 1, or Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
Sherman had the championship game’s most iconic play and most talked-about after-game comments. He also led the league in interceptions in 2013, played on the NFL’s top-ranked defense and, in case you haven’t noticed, has been getting a wee bit of attention the last two weeks.
Watt won the award last year. And while the Texans were the worst team in the league, Watt was nearly always the most dominant player on the field.
Here’s a look at who should and who will win the NFL’s six other major awards:
Offensive Player of the Year
Coach of the Year
Offensive Rookie of the Year
Defensive Rookie of the Year
Comeback Player of the Year