The Final Case for Adrian Peterson as NFL MVP

Andrew GardaFeatured ColumnistJanuary 2, 2013

I've said for several months now that Adrian Peterson should be—indeed has to be—the NFL MVP.

This last Sunday merely cemented my dedication to the MVPeterson campaign.

Still not sold? Well, allow me to attempt one last time to convince you.

While doing so, I will not spend time tearing down Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Matt Ryan, J.J. Watt or anyone else who could be considered for MVP.

They're all worthy in their own way, and their accomplishments need not be torn down for my admiration of MVPeterson to be supported.

In the end, I just believe Peterson deserves it more.

Let's start this party off by removing one of the alleged hurdles to "All Day" being named MVP.

Now that the Minnesota Vikings have made the playoffs, can we dispense with the argument that since Peterson wasn't on a playoff team, he isn't worthy of merit?

It was a straw man to begin with, but at this point, let's completely set it on fire, because not only did they make it, Peterson was a huge part of why.

After Thanksgiving weekend, the Vikings were 6-5, had lost four of their last six games and were on the outside of the playoffs looking in.

While they dropped their first game in December to Green Bay, that loss fell almost squarely on the shoulders of Christian Ponder. The young quarterback threw a pair of soul-killing red-zone interceptions in the second half of a game where "All Day" went for 210 yards and a touchdown.

Peterson did so on 21 carries, averaging 10 yards per run, with a long of 82.

This was only the beginning for Peterson, who ended up setting an NFL record for most rushing yards (861) in one month.

During the same span?

Christian Ponder threw for 749 yards. He broke 200 yards passing once and threw just five touchdowns.

Adrian Peterson ran for more yards in December than his quarterback threw for and ran for as many touchdowns as his quarterback tossed into the end zone.

How often does that happen on a winning team?

And yes, they won, ripping off four wins to finish the season.

During the last, critical month of 2012, Peterson carried the Vikings offense to the playoffs. Even last week, when Ponder had what was the best game of his career, Peterson was a huge and critical part of the offense.

And one that Green Bay once again had no answer for.

Without Peterson, this team simply doesn't make the playoffs. I'm not even sure how many wins it gets in the second half of the season.

Speaking of the season, over the course of 16 games, Peterson went over 100 yards 10 times, including eight in a row. He also scored touchdowns in eight straight games, averaged a staggering 6.0 yards per carry (a full yard over his career average) over 348 runs and led the league in rushing yards per game with 131.1.

Still not impressed?

What are you people, cyborgs?

Well, Peterson might be as well, with the way he came back from an injury in which he tore two ligaments (both MCL and ACL) less than a year after surgery.

The word "unprecedented" comes to mind.

Now, some have said it's easy to come back from an ACL injury these days, even while tearing the MCL as well. I disagree, though easier due to medical technology is fair to say—if by easier you mean "possible" versus "not a chance in hell."

Saying Peterson's path to overcome his injury was "easy" is ridiculous. Tearing an ACL and an MCL on the same knee doesn't normally lead to coming back nine months later, being effective when you do and then having a career and record-setting year.

You don't race your team's top wide receiver in OTAs after surgery, either.

The dedication and determination he showed while coming back was insane.

Some will say overcoming this injury shouldn't factor into the MVP discussion—that both Peterson and Peyton Manning can contend for the Comeback Player of the Year award instead.

In both cases, I respectfully disagree.

The expectations for both players are always high, but in both cases, these players were looked upon with some concern. This year's bar for them was lowered because both were coming back from surgeries that were thought to severely limit their capabilities for this season, if not the rest of their careers.

And yet, in both cases, these players overcame the limitations and low expectations to carry their teams into the postseason.

You can't ignore it or dismiss it, because it is part of the whole package.

Adrian Peterson has had a tremendous season, carried his team through the second half of it and was the factor that got them into the playoffs.

While the other players are worthy as well, in my mind, the accomplishments Peterson has had and the obstacles he has had to overcome make him a no-brainer for NFL MVP award.

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