If the Minnesota Vikings fail to advance to the NFL Playoffs, Adrian Peterson does not deserve the title of NFL MVP.
Sure, what Peterson has accomplished this season—less than a year after needing major surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his shattered knee (h/t USA Today)—is nothing short of extraordinary.
He leads the NFL in rushing with 1,812 yards on 289 carries, an average of 6.3 yards per carry, and has scored 11 touchdowns.
Peterson has two 200-yard rushing games on the season, nine 100-yard rushing games and has hit triple digits in eight consecutive games, and he’s done it with Christian Ponder doing a terrible impersonation of a starting NFL QB.
The last time that the NFL MVP award went to a player from a non-playoff team was nearly 40 years ago, when Buffalo Bills RB O.J. Simpson took home the hardware in 1973.
Simpson was far-and-away the most valuable player in the league. He led the Bills to a 9-5 record and had nearly 900 more rushing yards than the man who finished second in the league in that category, Green Bay’s John Brockington.
Peterson faces much stiffer competition today than Simpson did then, and strong cases can be made for Denver’s Peyton Manning, New England’s Tom Brady, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers and Houston’s J.J. Watt to win the award.
What’s that you say? Peterson has a chance to break one of the NFL’s great records, Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing mark set back in 1983?
Yes, he does.
But setting records doesn’t make you a MVP.
If it did, why aren’t we talking about Detroit’s Calvin Johnson, who broke Jerry Rice’s single-season receiving yardage record on Saturday night and has a real chance of becoming the first receiver with 2,000 yards receiving in a season?
It’s because Detroit isn’t a very good team; because Detroit isn’t a playoff team.
For all of his accomplishments, the Vikings are no better than the Lions if the team fails to reach the playoffs.
If that's being held against Calvin Johnson, why should things be any different for Adrian Peterson?
Because he overcame injury? So did Peyton Manning, and he’s led his team to a division title and the second-overall seed in the AFC playoffs.
Because he’s going to break a tremendous record?
With all due respect to Eric Dickerson, breaking a record held by Jerry Rice, who is arguably the greatest football player in the history of the NFL, regardless of position, is more impressive a feat.
After you peel away all the stats, all of the individual accomplishments, it comes down to wins and losses.
While Peterson has carried the Vikings on his back, failing to break through the wall separating playoff teams from the rest of the pack should count for something—especially when the other contenders for the honor have all led their respective teams to the promised land.
It should keep Adrian Peterson from being crowned the 2012 NFL MVP.