The NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award is given by the Associated Press to the league's most outstanding defensive player at the end of every NFL season since 1971. Multiple-award winners include Lawrence Taylor, who won it three times, and Joe Greene, Mike Singletary, Bruce Smith, Reggie White, and Ray Lewis, who each won it twice. Lawrence Taylor is the only player to win the award as a rookie (1981), and James Harrison is the only one to win it as an undrafted free agent (2008).
During the respective seasons, a Defensive Player of the Week and Defensive Player of the Month are also announced.
NFL Defensive Players Of The Year
|Year||Player Name||NFL Team||Position||Team Defense Rank||Team Performance|
|1971||Alan Page||Minnesota Vikings||Defensive tackle||2||NFC Division champ|
|1972||Joe Greene||Pittsburgh Steelers||Defensive tackle||8||AFC Championship|
|1973||Dick Anderson||Miami Dolphins||Safety||3||Won Super Bowl VIII|
|1974||Joe Greene (2)||Pittsburgh Steelers (2)||Defensive tackle||4||Won Super Bowl IX|
|1975||Mel Blount||Pittsburgh Steelers (3)||Cornerback||4||Won Super Bowl X|
|1976||Jack Lambert||Pittsburgh Steelers (4)||Linebacker||1||AFC Championship|
|1977||Harvey Martin||Dallas Cowboys||Defensive end||1||Won Super Bowl XII|
|1978||Randy Gradishar||Denver Broncos||Linebacker||6||AFC Divisional|
|1979||Lee Roy Selmon||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Defensive end||1||NFC Championship|
|1980||Lester Hayes||Oakland Raiders||Cornerback||11||Won Super Bowl XV|
|1981||Lawrence Taylor-R||New York Giants||Linebacker||3||NFC Divisional|
|1982||Lawrence Taylor (2)||New York Giants (2)||Linebacker||7||4–5 no playoffs (strike season)|
|1983||Doug Betters||Miami Dolphins (2)||Defensive end||7||AFC Divisional|
|1984||Kenny Easley||Seattle Seahawks||Safety||6||AFC Divisional|
|1985||Mike Singletary||Chicago Bears||Linebacker||1||Won Super Bowl XX|
|1986||Lawrence Taylor (3)||New York Giants (3)||Linebacker||2||Won Super Bowl XXI|
|1987||Reggie White||Philadelphia Eagles||Defensive end||23||7–8 no playoffs (strike season)|
|1988||Mike Singletary (2)||Chicago Bears (2)||Linebacker||2||NFC Championship|
|1989||Keith Millard||Minnesota Vikings (2)||Defensive tackle||1||NFC Divisional|
|1990||Bruce Smith||Buffalo Bills||Defensive end||8||Lost Super Bowl XXV|
|1991||Pat Swilling||New Orleans Saints||Linebacker||2||NFC Wildcard|
|1992||Cortez Kennedy||Seattle Seahawks (2)||Defensive tackle||10t||2–14 no playoffs|
|1993||Rod Woodson||Pittsburgh Steelers (5)||Cornerback||3||AFC Wildcard|
|1994||Deion Sanders||San Francisco 49ers||Cornerback||8||Won Super Bowl XXIX|
|1995||Bryce Paup||Buffalo Bills (2)||Linebacker||13||AFC Divisional|
|1996||Bruce Smith (2)||Buffalo Bills (3)||Defensive end||9||AFC Wildcard|
|1997||Dana Stubblefield||San Francisco 49ers (2)||Defensive tackle||1||NFC Championship|
|1998||Reggie White (2)||Green Bay Packers||Defensive end||4||NFC Wildcard|
|1999||Warren Sapp||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2)||Defensive tackle||3||NFC Championship|
|2000||Ray Lewis||Baltimore Ravens||Linebacker||2||Won Super Bowl XXXV|
|2001||Michael Strahan||New York Giants (4)||Defensive end||14||7–9 no playoffs|
|2002||Derrick Brooks||Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3)||Linebacker||1||Won Super Bowl XXXVII|
|2003||Ray Lewis (2)||Baltimore Ravens (2)||Linebacker||3||AFC Wildcard|
|2004||Ed Reed||Baltimore Ravens (3)||Safety||6||9–7 no playoffs|
|2005||Brian Urlacher||Chicago Bears (3)||Linebacker||2||NFC Divisional|
|2006||Jason Taylor||Miami Dolphins (3)||Defensive end||4||6–10, no playoffs|
|2007||Bob Sanders||Indianapolis Colts||Safety||3||AFC Divisional|
|2008||James Harrison||Pittsburgh Steelers (6)||Linebacker||1||Won Super Bowl XLIII|
|2009||Charles Woodson||Green Bay Packers (2)||Cornerback||2||NFC Wildcard|
|2010||Troy Polamalu||Pittsburgh Steelers (7)||Safety||2||Lost Super Bowl XLV|
|2011||Terrell Suggs||Baltimore Ravens (4)||Linebacker||3||AFC Championship|
- Defensive Player of the Year Award (NFC and AFC) (Kansas City Committee of 101 Awards) (since 1969)
- NEA NFL Defensive Players of the Year (defunct)
- UPI AFC and NFC Defensive Player of the Year Award (since 1975) (defunct ?)
- NFL Offensive Player of the Year Award
- NFL Most Valuable Player awards
- Bert Bell Award
- UPI AFL-AFC Player of the Year (defunct)
- UPI NFC Player of the Year (defunct)
- "Ray Lewis goes from murder suspect to NFL's Defensive Player of Year". Batesville Daily Guard website. Associated Press. January 3, 2001. http://www.guardonline.com/?q=node/14275. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "First safety in 20 years to win defensive award". Associated Press. January 7, 2005. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=1961735. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Urlacher named AP Defensive Player of the Year". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 6, 2006. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2282829. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- Wilner, Barry (January 5, 2007). "Taylor takes home AP Defensive Player of the Year honor". USAToday.com. Associated Press. http://www.usatoday.com/sports/football/nfl/dolphins/2007-01-05-ap-defensive-player-award_x.htm. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "AP picks Colts' Sanders as top defensive player". ESPN.com. Associated Press. January 7, 2008. http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=3185005. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- Wilner, Barry (January 5, 2009). "Steelers' Harrison is AP Defensive Player of Year". google.com. Associated Press. http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hAgAxyE0WeXvBWpXKE3vxftAxoMwD95H6MBG0. Retrieved January 5, 2009.
- "Packers CB Woodson voted AP's top defensive player". nfl.com. Associated Press. January 12, 2010. http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d815ade86&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true. Retrieved October 27, 2010.[dead link]
- NFL Defensive Player of the Year at CBSSportsline.com
- NFL Defensive Player of the Year at The Times Leader website
-  at NFL.com News
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