Brees wins FedEx honor; o-line takes Madden Protectors Award

INDIANAPOLIS – Befitting a team that shattered two longstanding NFL offensive records during the 2011 season, the New Orleans Saints picked up two major awards Wednesday as Super Bowl XLVI activities continued.

Quarterback Drew Brees was named the FedEx NFL Air Player of the Year for the fourth time in six seasons with the club and the Saints’ offensive line took home the Madden Protectors Award presented by Prilosec OTC for the best line play for the second time in three years.

Behind Brees’ 5,476 passing yards, which broke the 27-year-old single-season record of 5,084 yards by Dan Marino, the Saints set the league mark for total yards in a season with 7,474 — which easily topped the old mark of 7,075 yards set by the St. Louis Rams in 2000.

Brees won his award in an online vote of fans over Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, the 2010 winner, and New England’s Tom Brady. Brees, who is the only quarterback to win at least three times in the nine-year history of the award, also took the honor in 2006, ’08 and ’09.

The Saints’ starting offensive line of tackles Jermon Bushrod and Zach Strief, center Brian de la Puente, and guards Carl Nicks and Jahri Evans were on hand to accept.

More than 350,000 fans voted online for the Madden Protectors Award, which the Saints won over the Houston Texans, New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos.

The FedEx NFL Ground Player of the Year Award, which was announced in conjunction with the air award, went to Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy. He won over Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew and Baltimore’s Ray Rice.