Ravens kicker Justin Tucker was named the NFL’s first “Most Valuable Performer” with his opera performance of “Ave Maria” on Thursday night.
Competing in a one-hour interactive talent show on CBS against five other NFL players, Tucker was announced the winner over Carolina Panthers running back Jonathan Stewart and Cleveland Browns guard Kevin Zeitler, who were selected as finalists by a three-judge panel of New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall and actors Katharine McPhee and Maz Jobrani.
After the final performances, Tucker, who began singing opera in college, won a fan vote on CBS.com and earned $50,000 for the charity of his choice: the Baltimore School for the Arts.
Tucker has shown off his singing voice before, performing at a charity Christmas concert in 2015 in Baltimore. He was the special guest performer at Catholic Charities' Christmas Festival and sang "Ave Maria" before a packed house at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Mount Vernon. His opera skills have also been featured in commercials.
The other contestants were Tucker’s teammates Brandon Williams and Alex Collins and the Denver Broncos’ Domata Peko. Williams also sang, having performed a rendition of Sam Smith’s “Latched” to help earn his spot on the final show, while Collins showed off his popular Irish dancing skills.
Cody and Jacob Hollister of the New England Patriots, who would have competed together, did not participate because of Super Bowl obligations. Peko competed as an alternate, singing and playing the guitar. Zeitler performed tricks with a dog and Stewart played piano.
The “Most Valuable Performer” contest began Dec. 1 with 32 NFL players showing off their talents at Sports Illustrated’s website.