Jan. 11, 2007
The National Football League today announced the five finalists for the 2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award.
2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR FINALISTS
JOSEPH ADDAI Running Back Indianapolis Colts
REGGIE BUSH Running Back New Orleans Saints
MAURICE JONES-DREW Running Back Jacksonville Jaguars
DEVIN HESTER DB-KR-PR Chicago Bears
VINCE YOUNG Quarterback Tennessee Titans
Fans can vote for one of these five players on NFL.com from 12 noon ET on January 5 through 12 noon ET on January 29 to determine the 2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR. CLICK HERE TO VOTE.
In addition, for the second year, NFL fans may cast their votes for the 2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR using phones with Sprint wireless service - an opportunity available only to Sprint customers. This fast, convenient voting method involves texting the word PEPSI to short code 7777. Sprint customers will then receive an interactive text message that links fans to the ballot with the five finalists. Data and text messaging rates may apply.
The winner will be presented the 2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR award during a press conference in South Florida, the site of Super Bowl XLI, on Thursday, February 1, 2007.
The five finalists were selected for their outstanding performances throughout the 2006 NFL season. Each week, five nominees were chosen for Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week and NFL fans voted for the winner on NFL.com and via Sprint wireless. Those results were used to help determine the finalists.
Following is a closer look at the five 2006 DIET PEPSI NFL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR finalists:
JOSEPH ADDAI (Indianapolis Colts) - Addai carried 226 times for 1,081 yards, tops among NFL rookies. He quickly filled the void left by former Colts running back Edgerrin James, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and scoring seven rushing touchdowns. In addition, Addai caught 40 passes for 325 yards and one touchdown, helping the Colts to a 12-4 record and an AFC South division title. Addai recorded more than 100 combined yards rushing and receiving in six games, including two 100-yard rushing performances. His best game came in Week 12, when he ran for 171 yards and four touchdowns in the Colts' 45-21 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. He also rushed for 78 yards and a touchdown and caught seven passes for 46 yards in the Colts 17-16 victory over the Buffalo Bills in Week 10. Addai, who attended Louisiana State University, was nominated for four Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
REGGIE BUSH (New Orleans Saints) - Bush accumulated 1,523 total yards, making an immediate impact in several phases of New Orleans' attack. The Saints running back carried 155 times for 565 yards and six touchdowns, caught 88 passes for 742 yards and two touchdowns, and returned 28 punts for 216 yards and one touchdown as he helped the Saints improve from a 3-13 season in 2005 to finish 10-6 and win the NFC South this season. Bush's best games included New Orleans' 34-10 victory over the San Francisco 49ers, in which he scored three rushing touchdowns and caught nine passes for 131 yards and another score, and the Saints' 42-17 victory over the Dallas Cowboys the following week, when he rushed for 37 yards and caught six passes for 125 yards and one touchdown. Bush, who attended the University of Southern California, was nominated for five Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning once.
MAURICE JONES-DREW (Jacksonville Jaguars) - Jones-Drew tied for fourth in the NFL with 13 rushing touchdowns, carrying 166 times for 941 yards along the way. He added 46 catches for 436 yards and two touchdowns and returned 31 kickoffs for 860 yards and one touchdown, giving him 2,237 all-purpose yards, tops among 2006 rookies. Jones-Drew enjoyed two of his biggest games against the Jaguars biggest rival. In Jacksonville's 21-14 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Week 3, Jones-Drew carried 13 times for 103 yards and caught four passes for 32 yards and a touchdown. When the clubs met again in Week 14, Jones-Drew carried 15 times for 166 yards and two touchdowns and returned a kickoff 93 yards for another score in the Jaguars' 44-17 victory. Jones-Drew, who attended the University of California Los Angeles, was nominated for five Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
DEVIN HESTER (Chicago Bears) - Hester set an NFL record with six return-touchdowns in a season. He returned 20 kickoffs for 528 yards and two touchdowns, 47 punts for 600 yards and three touchdowns, and one missed field goal attempt 108 yards for a touchdown. He made several plays this season that led to Chicago victories, including an 83-yard punt return touchdown in the final three minutes against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 6, as the Bears won 24-23. In Week 11 against the New York Giants, Hester fielded a missed field goal deep in his own endzone and returned it a record-tying 108 yards to put the Bears in front 31-20 en route to a 38-20 victory. And in Week 14 against the St. Louis Rams, he returned two kickoffs for touchdowns (94 and 96 yards) in Chicago's 42-27 victory. Hester, who attended the University of Miami, was nominated for three Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards.
VINCE YOUNG (Tennessee Titans) - Young led all rookies with 12 touchdown passes and ranked second among rookies with 2,199 passing yards, as he led the Titans to an 8-8 record and the brink of the AFC Playoffs. Young took over as the starting quarterback in Week 4 and went 8-5 as a starter. He also rushed 83 times for 552 yards and seven touchdowns. After the Titans started 2-7, Young led the youthful team on six-game winning streak. During that period, he threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 69 yards and another score in a 24-21 win over the New York Giants; he threw for 163 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 78 yards in a 20-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts; and he threw for 183 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 61 yards and a touchdown in a 30-29 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Young, who attended the University of Texas, was nominated for six Diet Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week awards, winning four times.