AP Defensive Rookie of the Year
The only Arizona Cardinal to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, Simeon Rice, did so in 1996. Rice lived up to that top billing in his rookie season as the third overall pick of the draft. He won the award on the back of 12.5 sacks, 52 combined tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
Rice played out his rookie contract in Arizona and ended his time there with 51.5 sacks. In 1999 he was also selected to the Pro Bowl and the Second-Team All-Pro list. He left for Tampa Bay in 2001, playing out most of his career and adding two more Pro Bowls and First and Second-Team All-Pro selections.
AP Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year
No Arizona Cardinals have won either the AP OPOY or the DPOY awards while they were with the team.
*Current Cardinal JJ Watt has won the DPOY three times in 2012, 2014, and 2015.
NEA Defensive Player of the Year (Throwback to the past)
Before the AP DPOY, an organization known as the Newspaper Enterprise Association handed out their own award for the best defensive player.
In 1966, that honoree was one of the greatest Cardinals ever to play the game, Larry Wilson. One of the most legendary safeties in the history of the game, Wilson was everywhere in ’66 and hauled in 10 interceptions that he returned for 180 yards and two touchdowns. In that season, he had an impressive seven-game streak of an interception in every outing.
Wilson has since been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame but sadly passed away in 2020.
AP Comeback Player of the Year
No Arizona Cardinal has ever won the Comeback Player of the Year award.
Walter Payton Man of the Year
In 2008, the same year the Arizona Cardinals made a magical run to the Super Bowl, QB Kurt Warner was awarded the coveted Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Warner is well-known for his community work, and since his time in the NFL ended, he has been involved in developing young quarterbacks at many levels of the game. His character was always well-spoken of, and fellow players unanimously praised Warner’s attitude and work ethic.
The one, the only. Legendary Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald won the WPMOY award in 2016, and there has rarely been a player more deserving of the honor.
Any Cardinals fan could gush for hours about the type of leader and person that Larry was and is in the Arizona community. Hence, it was only right that he was finally recognized on the national stage with such a prestigious award. It is also fitting that, for all the playing accomplishments of his 17-year career in the NFL, it was an award for character that is the highest honor earned by Fitz.
*Former Arizona Cardinal Anquan Boldin also won the WPMOY in 2015 with a different team, the San Francisco 49ers.