When the NFL's Most Valuable Player is announced at the end of the season, two players who suffered injuries thought to derail, and even end, their careers will be the favorites.
Peyton Manning, a four time winner of the award, missed all of last season with a neck injury many feared would end his illustrious career. Adrian Peterson, arguably the best running back in the NFL, tore his ACL and MCL in the second to last regular season game a year ago.
After both players went through grueling and painful rehab, they have returned and exceeded expectations placed on them for this season.
After a year away from football, Manning has lead Denver to an 11-3 record and an AFC West crown. Through Week 15, the veteran signal caller has thrown for 4,016 yards and 31 touchdowns. Manning is sixth in NFL in passing yards and third in passing touchdowns.
Peterson suffered one of the most gruesome leg injuries in league history last year, but has returned to the field in record time, which many thought was impossible.
Experts say that it takes seven to nine months for an ACL to heal. It takes even longer for the typical athlete to even come close to returning to his old form.
Peterson, however, is not normal.
Just nine months after his surgery, Peterson started Week 1 and instantly proved he was back, rushing for 84 yards and two touchdowns. Many thought Peterson’s level of play would not sustain over the course of a rigorous NFL season.
Again, Peterson proved he was not your typical human being. Through Week 15, the running back has rushed for 1,812 yards (a career best) and 11 touchdowns, leading Minnesota to an 8-6 record and a chance at a wildcard.
Both players have been at the center of their teams success this season and are worthy of the MVP honor. Typically, only one player wins the NFL’s highest individual award. However, because of the unforeseen success of Manning and Peterson, the NFL MVP must go to both players.
Why Peterson and Manning should be co-MVP’s
For the first time in nine seasons, the MVP should go to two players.
With the seasons that Manning and Peterson are having, it is undeniable that both deserve the award. Nobody could have pictured the success both are having—as a result, the MVP needs to be shared this year.
As mentioned earlier, Manning is coming off a career threatening injury. He also switched teams this offseason and had to learn a new system. While Manning had a lot of input in the offensive system, he still had to get used to a new personnel group.
While many expected Manning to change the Broncos offense, what he has done (even for him) is impressive.
This year, Denver has become a high-scoring, well-balanced offense averaging 277.1 yards through the air and 110.1 yards on the ground. With Manning at the helm, Denver is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. Without him, they may make the playoffs, but they don’t win a game.
Who deserves the MVP?
Peterson is having one of the finest seasons for a running back in NFL history and is chasing the single-season rushing mark set by Eric Dickerson (2,105 yards). Entering Sunday, Peterson is just 294 yards shy of surpassing Dickerson.
In addition, Peterson’s 1,812 rushing yards is 400 more yards than any other back. How Peterson is putting up these numbers is anyone’s guess.
Defenses stack the box because they know Peterson will be getting the ball, but they still can’t slow him down.
While most backs slow down at the end of the year, Peterson is getting stronger.
In five of his last six games, Peterson has rushed for at least 150 yards—twice running for over 200 yards. Without their star back, the Vikings would be lucky to have four wins this season.
Because of the seasons they are having after coming off serious injuries, and what they mean to their teams, Manning and Peterson both deserve the MVP without question.