There will be numerous trophies, accolades, and praise for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert after his rookie season. He added another one when Pepsi announced that Herbert was their Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Year on Thursday morning.
It seemed like the award would be renamed the “Justin Herbert Rookie of the Week” award because of how often he won it this season. After an NFL week is over, a poll was conducted by Pepsi and the NFL asking fans to vote whom they thought the rookie of the week was for the previous week. This was the first season fans voted the winner.
“It's an honor to be named the Pepsi Zero Sugar NFL Rookie of the Year,” said Herbert after winning the award. “It was really all about the fans who came out and voted.”
Chargers fans got out and voted for Herbert each week he was nominated for the weekly award. He was the winner nine times this season, which is the most by any nominee.
“I think that is why it means so much,” explained the rookie quarterback. “For them to come out in such great big numbers was a huge honor. Despite the challenging year that we had to have their support throughout this entire year, it meant so much to me.”
The Chargers quarterback had a different beginning to his NFL career than most before him. Due to the pandemic, his only contact with teammates and coaches was via zoom until he reported for training camp. Everything was limited this season, so he picked up the offense virtually.
During training camp, he was number two behind Tyrod Taylor, a veteran quarterback and the starter going into the season. Herbert was asked to come in week two after a medical emergency five minutes before the game started. Herbert had the Chargers with an 11-point lead late in the game against the Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Herbert went on to score 36 total touchdowns that broke Cam Newton’s rookie record. He also broke Andrew Luck’s record of six 300 passing yard games with eight. Herbert broke every rookie record imaginable.
His three biggest games were against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, and Las Vegas Raiders.
The Chargers faced the Bucs and Saints in back-to-back weeks. Herbert got into a slugfest with future hall of fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees. He completed 80 percent of his passes, 390 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception. He completed touchdown passes of 53 and 72 yards. The following week, Herbert completed 59 percent of his passes but threw for 264 yards and four touchdowns.
Towards the end of the season, the Raiders were hoping to get in the playoffs if they won their final three games, with their first being against the Chargers on Thursday night football. Herbert showed the country his talent throwing for 314 yards while completing 69 percent of his passes and scoring three touchdowns. He also scored the game-winning touchdown.
The rookie quarterback was competing against Vikings receiver Justin Jefferson, Jaguars running back James Robinson, Colts running back Jonathan Taylor, and Washington defensive end Chase Young.
“I know there are so many great guys great rookies in this class and to be nominated just even in the conversation is a huge honor for me,” said the rookie quarterback.
The trophy is big and looks exactly like the Pepsi Zero Sugar black cover drink. Herbert said they told him it weighed around 20 pounds, but he believes it is about 50 pounds. He knows the award is special because of fan voting, but the real question is whether the awesome looking trophy would remain at his two biggest fans (mom and dad) home or in his home?
“It'll probably remain in my parents’ house,” said Herbert. “It's a nice trophy.”
As for now he will continue to hang out with his family in Eugene until after the Super Bowl is over because in his mind that is when the real work begins for the 2021 season.
“Start working out back at the facility, because I think there's a bunch of guys that are already there,” said Herbert. “So being able to spend some time with them go work hard and kind of get things squared away soon.”