January 02, 2009
Consider the following about our newly-crowned NFL MVP:
• Four quarterbacks had a higher QB rating than he did
• Five quarterbacks threw for more yards than he did
• Four quarterbacks threw more touchdown passes than he did
• He spent the first 25% of the season doing a fine Dan Orlovsky impression
And he just won the Associated Press's MVP award in a landslide that Walter Mondale looked at and said, "Damn." Peyton got 32 votes. Closest to him were Chad Pennington and Michael Turner with four each. James Harrison and Adrian Peterson tied with three votes each.
I'm not necessarily complaining about it. I don't have any huge problem with Manning winning the hardware, and I can't name another player who I feel is clearly and definitively a better choice.
It's just that it feels like the most "blah" MVP selection of all time. Exactly how did Manning distinguish himself to the point where he won in such a convincing fashion? The biggest thing I see is that he presided over a nine-game winning streak to get his team into the playoffs.
And that's great ... I guess that's a reason to give a guy an MVP award. But wasn't that win streak necessary at least in part because Manning was so average early in the season? What's the big accomplishment? That he got his team into the playoffs? Congratulations, so did 11 other quarterbacks. And at least a handful of them did so with better numbers than Manning.
This is where the word "valuable" just gums up everything. If you want to tell me that Peyton Manning's been more valuable to the Colts than Chad Pennington was to the Dolphins, James Harrison was to the Steelers, Kurt Warner was to the Cardinals, or Michael Turner was to the Falcons, you can. And you might be right, but I don't know how you could prove it. It's a more subjective statement than "Asparagus is delicious."
Here's what I think happened. A lot of guys were fantastic this year. There were MVP-caliber performances all over the league. But there wasn't that one guy who stood out clearly above the rest. And it also happened to be that lot of the guys who did have MVP years don't necessarily fall in the "superstar" category. Chad Pennington, James Harrison, and Michael Turner aren't moving a lot of Fatheads, you know?
And since they don't have those big names, it might have taken a little bit of a pair to write their names down on an MVP ballot. Peyton Manning, meanwhile, because his name is Peyton Manning, is very easy to write down. Because not only is he a great player, and not only did he, like a lot of guys, have an MVP caliber year ... but he's Peyton Manning. Everyone knows how great he is. And the familiar name and his history with the award made writing his name on the ballot feel like snuggling up against a warm, comfortable, familiar blanket.
The snuggling blanky factor. That's what got Peyton his landslide.
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