The Associated Press unanimously named Parsons the Defensive Rookie of the Year Thursday night during its annual Super Bowl Week awards ceremony, making him the first player in NFL history to receive all 50 possible votes.
Parsons is also the first Dallas Cowboys player to ever take home the honor.
Many sportswriters considered Parsons the clear winner of the Defensive Rookie of the Year award by the middle of the season. Some even went so far as to call the ceremony a formality.
Viewed as possibly the best athlete in his draft class, Parsons was taken with the twelfth overall pick by Dallas, much to the chagrin of Cowboy’ Twitter, who sounded off with their disgust at picking Parsons over a position of need.
Parsons silenced his critics quickly, and it’s not hard to see why.
Over the course of the first half of the season, Parsons quickly emerged as one of the most versatile defenders in the league. His speed, awareness, and body control made it possible for him to play virtually anywhere defensive coordinator Dan Quinn put him.
Quinn, who was named Assistant Coach of the Year prior to the NFL Honors, quickly took Parsons under his wing. Moving Parsons from linebacker to defensive end in the absence of the injured Demarcus Lawrence in Week 2 displayed the amount of confidence Quinn had in the rookie.
Parsons, who refers to Quinn as “Uncle Q”, credited Quinn with his success in his rookie year, going as far to say they have something to prove to them now after the Cowboys season ended during the first round of the postseason.
Before being named Defensive Rookie of the Year, Parsons earned the NFL’s Butkus award, annually given to the league’s best linebacker.
He was also selected to the 2021 Pro Bowl and was the first Cowboys rookie to be selected as an AP First Team All-Pro, where he was the only rookie defender selected.
Parsons’ franchise-record 13 sacks as a rookie and his 20 tackles for loss, tied for the league best, were also enough to earn him second place in the voting for Defensive Player of the Year, which ultimately went to Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt.
Parsons had a message after finishing second for Defensive Player of the Year:
“It’s an honor, and I hope T.J. and the rest of the league knows that I’m still hungry,” Parsons said. “I’m coming for it next year.”