December 12, 2008
The crop for Saturday's ceremony for that trophy they give out every year -- you know, that one, in New York -- might be the most generic, boring crop of candidates you could possibly imagine: Hey, let's pick the quarterbacks off the top three teams! They were on TV all the time!
But however tired you are of hearing about them, you can't deny Sam Bradford, Colt McCoy and Tim Tebow this: They're also the most prolific class of finalists in the last two decades.
I don't know if it seems that way off the top of your head, but just compare these three quarterbacks to the dozen quarterbacks who have been named "Most Outstanding" since 1988 (plus a couple legendary second-place finishers who could have won it, Vince Young and Peyton Manning). This is easy, since the trophy's been won almost every year since 2000 by a quarterback whose team is playing for the mythical championship (with the exception of Carson Palmer, Tim Tebow, Reggie Bush in 2005, who -- like many of his colleagues -- is lucky the vote came before the bowl game). If you ignore how often they throw (sorry, Andre and Ty) and account for what happens when they do, this is how the trio from 2008 stacks up against best quarterbacks of the past two decades (order is according to pass efficiency rating, with the best number in each category in red):
Hey, a clean sweep. By the numbers, any of the three finalists this year could have been (maybe should have been) the favorite in just about any other year for the past 20 years.