Cooper Kupp named top offensive player; Andrew Whitworth wins Walter Payton award

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, right, chats with tight end Tyler Higbee.
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, right, chats with tight end Tyler Higbee during a game against the San Francisco 49ers on Jan. 9.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp did it with his outstanding performance on the field this season. Rams offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth achieved it with a career of outstanding effort on and off the field.

On Thursday night, Kupp was named Associated Press offensive player of the year, and Whitworth was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year during NFL Honors at the YouTube Theater in Inglewood.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won the most valuable player award. Mike Vrabel of the Tennessee Titans was coach of the year, Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt defensive player of the year. Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase was offensive rookie of the year, Dallas Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons defensive rookie of the year.


Kupp and Whitworth are key players for a Rams team that will play the Bengals on Sunday in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Kupp, 28, is the first Ram to win offensive player of the year since former running back Todd Gurley won in 2017.

Kupp won the NFL’s so-called triple crown in receiving by leading the league with 145 catches, 1,947 yards receiving and 16 touchdown catches. His performance helped the Rams win the NFC West with a 12-5 record and make a run to their first Super Bowl appearance since 2018.

As he did after being voted All-Pro and winning the offensive player of the year award presented by the Pro Football Writers of America, Kupp said the honors he has received would not be possible without his teammates.

“Just a testament to the guys I get to play alongside,” said Kupp, who has 433 career receptions, 40 for touchdowns. “I’ve had so much fun this year preparing with the guys we have on this team.

“It’s been an honor stepping on the field with those guys. Just very thankful for them and their contributions to really what is a team award.”

Whitworth, 40, is the first Rams player to win the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year award, which has been presented since 1970 and recognizes on-field performance and “commitment to philanthropy and community impact.”

Rams offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth smiles during a game against the Arizona Cardinals in December.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

Each team annually nominates a player for the award.

“It’s an amazing honor and it’s very humbling to just even put yourself in the conversation with some of the guys that have won this award,” said Whitworth, a four-time Pro Bowl left tackle who played 11 seasons with the Bengals before signing with the Rams in 2017. “I think of a mentor of mine in Cincinnati in Anthony Munoz, who won it a long, long time ago. But it’s amazing to even think of that scenario.”

This season, Whitworth donated $20,000 after each home game to repair homes in Louisiana and to aid Los Angeles citizens facing housing insecurity.

He was instrumental in helping to start the Rams’ Social Justice Fund, which granted funds to 25 nonprofits. He also has made large donations to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and funded STEAM Labs at two elementary schools. In 2018, Whitworth donated a game check to the families of the mass shooting victims at the Borderline Bar and Grill, and helped with relief efforts for families affected by Southland wildfires.

“I remember I got a chance to talk to the team, and one of the things I told ’em is, ‘You’ll never regret just making something about more than yourself,’” Whitworth said. “Like, you’ll never look back and go, ‘Hey, you know what, in an adverse time, in a tragedy I just went and loved on somebody.’

“Maybe you go sit by some families that are hurting and just tell ’em you’re thinking about ’em. Maybe you get involved financially, maybe you go show up for ’em. Whatever it is, you’ll never regret just doing something. ... It doesn’t have to be the perfect thing or the big thing that people are going to be talking about in the media.

“Just do that little thing. Don’t try to beat it up and find the perfect thing. Just put some action out there, and maybe you’ll find that, ‘Man, wow, this was rewarding, and I’d love to keep doing it.’”