You have got to be kidding me! Indianapolis Colts QB Peyton Manning is the NFL’s Most Valuable Player? This has to be the most outrageous display of voters seeking the lowest common denominator, the easy answer, that I’ve ever seen.
Manning, who won his third MVP award on Friday, Jan. 2, is now tied with Brett Favre for the most in NFL history.
But Manning doesn’t deserve this one. Actually, far from it.
Let me count the ways:
1. He played horribly as his team started 3-4.
2. His team didn’t win its division, the AFC South. The Colts literally own this division, having won it the last seven seasons.
3. He had his fewest touchdowns (27) since 2001.
4. He had his lowest passer rating (95.0) and yards-per-pass average (7.2) since 2002.
5. He hasn’t thrown for fewer yards (4,002) since his rookie season.
Now, I know that it isn’t how you start but how you finish. Manning and the Colts did win their last nine consecutive games, including a 24-0 victory in the last game of the season over the Tennessee Titans, the new AFC South champs.
According to ESPN, Manning completed 209 of 290 pass attempts for 2,248 yards, 17 touchdowns and only three interceptions over the stretch of victories. That’s pretty great. But he is Peyton Manning. He’s supposed to play well.
Which got me thinking… Could this year’s choice have been any more stale? I don’t think so. There were a number of players who had tremendous seasons for playoff teams that were clearly overlooked.
The Atlanta Falcons, for instance, had two players more deserving that Manning. RB Michael Turner (1,699 yards, 17 TDs) and rookie QB Matt Ryan (3,440 yards, 16 TDs) helped lead the Falcons into the playoffs a year after the team was in disarray following the Michael Vick scandal. Together, Turner and Ryan have changed the league-wide perception of the Falcons. That should not go overlooked.
What about Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson? He topped the NFL in rushing yards (1,760) and added 10 TDs as he led his team to the playoffs for the first time since 2004. He’s the best young running back since Gale Sayers and deserves any and all credit. He has single-handedly changed the Vikings’ fortunes.
Tennessee Titans QB Kerry Collins. Collins took over after Vince Young went on suicide watch and did what he had to do to get the Titans into the playoffs. The team, which got out to a 12-0 start, struggled down the stretch but still finished 13-3 and won the AFC South. Collins’ numbers aren’t great (2,676 yards, 12 TDs, 7 Ints) but nobody did more for his team. The Titans looked like a train wreck. Collins saved their season.
Could either the Falcons or the Vikings have made the NFC Playoffs without these players? Hardly. Would the Titans have a first-round bye in the AFC Playoffs? No.
Could the Colts had made the playoffs without Manning? Probably. The Colts still possess the pieces necessary to be successful and would have likely been on the cusp had backup QB Jim Sorgi been under center.
Clearly, the Associated Press’ choice of Manning represents overwhelming bias towards a player with the highest national profile. You can’t miss him. The guy is everywhere. DirecTVcommercials, ESPN commercials, Sprint commercials, MasterCard commercials. You name it, he probably endorses it. He even hosted Saturday Night Live!
Maybe next year the voters will get the stars out of their eyes and their heads out of their asses and actually spend some time watching game film and less time pandering to the NFL’s Leading Man(ning).