Newton is the second straight No. 1 overall draft pick to take the honor in voting by a nationwide panel of 50 media members who regularly cover the league. Rams QB Sam Bradford won it last year.
“I want to thank the man upstairs,” Newton said.
The first Panther to take the award, Newton received 47 votes to three for Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton. The awards were presented on the “NFL Honors” primetime special Saturday night on NBC.
Newton set an NFL record for touchdowns rushing in a season by a quarterback with 14 and became the first player in league history to throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500. He helped Carolina improve from 2-14 to 6-10, throwing for 21 touchdowns.
No quarterback had won the award until Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. Since, Vince Young, Matt Ryan, Bradford and Newton have been chosen.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.