The Chiefs’ journey from a disappointing 1-5 start to their first playoff victory in 22 years was a wild ride, full of highs and lows and herculean performances from many players.
On Saturday, the team announced two Chiefs were deemed most valuable to that cause, as quarterback Alex Smith and safety Eric Berry were chosen as the co-recipients of the Derrick Thomas MVP award.
“It makes it even more humbling when you get to share it with a guy like E.B.,” Smith said, “the player that he is, the person that he is and the teammate that he is … to be able to share this with him today is really, really special and a great honor.”
Smith, 31, put forth perhaps his finest season as a pro, completing 65.3 percent of his passes for 3,486 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also hurt opponents with his scrambling ability, rushing 84 times for a career-high 498 yards and two touchdowns.
The 27-year-old Berry, meanwhile, served as the Chiefs’ emotional leader after he fast-tracked his way through chemotherapy for Hodgkin lymphoma to return to the team in time for training camp in July.
He made 61 tackles, 10 pass deflections and two interceptions on the way to being chosen the NFL’s comeback player of the year. Berry also earned a first-team All-Pro selection for the second time in his career and was selected to the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in six seasons.
Berry credited many people in the Chiefs organization — players, coaches and executives alike — for having his back during his cancer ordeal.
“When I first got cleared, Alex was the first person I saw in the locker room and I think he was more excited than I was,” Berry said with a laugh. “Just having that type of environment and that type of camaraderie and your teammates pulling for you in every aspect, I think it goes a long way.
The Chiefs placed a non-exclusive franchise tender on Berry, a pending free agent, earlier this week.