The Panthers MVP this year? Vinny Testaverde

Shutdown Corner

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He's done it sort of under the radar, but Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams has put together a studly year.

He's fourth in the league in rushing yards, and his 5.5 yards per carry is more than a half-yard better than anyone else in the league with more than 100 carries on the year. That's rather bonkers. Williams can make as strong a case as anyone else that he's the best running back in the league this year.

And who do we have to thank for this superhuman effort? Vinny. Vinny Testaverde.

"We had a lengthy conversation and everything he said to me made perfect sense," said Williams, Carolina's first-round pick in 2006. "From the film room down to work ethic and everything of that nature. He really left me with some things that really touched me and stayed on my heart, as you can tell from this season."

Williams wouldn't reveal the exact details of the talk, and Testaverde couldn't be reached on Wednesday. But quarterback Jake Delhomme believes Williams has benefited greatly from the advice of the 21-year veteran who was well known for being in top condition and well prepared for every game.

"Last year, Vinny talked to DeAngelo about that, about, 'Hey, when you practice, run. Finish runs,'" Delhomme said. "Because Vinny had all those years and knew how to prepare. He was a tireless worker. He prepared extremely hard. I thought it was great that Vinny did that, because obviously, he saw something in DeAngelo."

I hope Vinny also talked to DeAngelo about proper hairstyles, because look at what's going on in that above picture. It is graceful, stylish, and elegant. If you allow your neck hair to grow into your actual hairstyle, you don't have to live with the stigma of having a mullet, yet you do get to taste all the delicious fruits of the mullet lifestyle. You say Vinny. I say visionary.

It is interesting to think, though, about how one conversation with a respected pro like Vinny can change a guy's entire career. Without Vinny, who knows if DeAngelo would've ever matured into the great runner he's been this year? He's the Patches O'Houlihan to DeAngelo's Peter La Fleur.

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