Give it to Brett Favre. Give it to Tony Romo. Give it to Adrian Peterson.
Heck, even give it to the guy who turned in Michael Vick.
But whatever you do, don't give the NFL MVP to Tom Brady.
Imagine the NFL season were a marathon—say, the Boston Marathon. You're running. You take off at the starting gun like everybody else. But then you notice that the runner next to you has hurried over to the side of the road.
A cab pulls up and the cabbie, a guy named, oh, I don’t know, Bill, opens the door. That other runner jumps inside the cab, and off they go down the road ahead of the pack, following the race course.
Some four or five miles later, racing officials pull the cab over, slap the driver on the wrist, and tell him he's in big trouble next year.
Then they make the runner jump out of the cab and resume the race.
But by now, said runner is miles ahead of the runners who followed the rules. So of course he wins the race—all thanks to the unfair lift from his buddy Bill.
How would you feel if this happened to you? Would you call it a just outcome?
Of course not! It's blatant cheating.
And so are New England’s deliberate and flagrant spying violations, of which they already stand convicted of by the NFL.
The rub, obviously, is that Brady—an individual who benefited from the illegal actions of his superiors—can't be league MVP. It's ridiculous. There can be no good fruit from a poison tree.
Yes, I’m a Packers fan...but I don’t need Bret Favre to win the MVP this year. This isn’t about that. Favre’s place in Canton is secure. His performance to date is good enough for him to go out on his terms, in a blaze of gunslinging glory.
But every time Favre actually did win the NFL MVP, he deserved it.
Favre never got his stats padded by rigging cameras in the opposing team’s locker room, or by hacking into their defensive coordinator’s computer. The same goes for every other player who's ever won the award—New England Patriots excepted.
If Tom Brady wins the league’s MVP this year, who wins it next year? A guy from a team that starts paying off opposing players for game plan information? How about a guy from a team that plants a mole?
In handing Brady the trophy, the NFL would effectively reward cheating. That would be pretty hard to square with Commissioner Roger Goodell's tough-guy persona.
If Brady gets the nod, Pete Rose should be get the next plaque in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And then Brady should give his MVP trophy to Rose, because Rose’s violations were misdemeanors next to Bill Belichick’s egregious felonies.