SAN FRANCISCO—Oakland Raiders star Khalil Mack has been awarded the Defensive Player of the Year award, the NFL announced on Sunday, February 5. The third-year linebacker became the first Oakland Raider to win the award since Lester Hayes in 1980.

Last year, Mack finished with 73 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and one interception.

He was awarded 18 of 50 first place votes for the award, just beating out Denver Broncos star Von Miller, who had 17 first place votes.

Mack’s best statistical game of this season came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, when he had two sacks, two quarterback hits and seven quarterback pressures.

He was unable to attended the ceremony in Houston, Texas, but did post a comment on Instagram that read:
I want to first thank my fellow NFL peers for this amazing honor. It’s a privilege to play against you week in and week out. To my teammates, you know I couldn’t have done this without you. Thank you to Mr. Davis and Mr. McKenzie and the entire Oakland Raiders organization for giving me the opportunity to play the game I love. I want to say thank you to Raider Nation, the best fans in the world! And of course I want to thank my Mom and Dad, my family and my friends for always believing in me and allowing me to pursue my dreams. It’s truly a blessing to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year!”
Written By Maria Chavez and Donald Roberts