Peyton Manning's MVP Sham: Players Who Deserved It More
I'm not going to write an elegant argument for why Peyton Manning's selection as MVP is a sham. Rather, I would l like to create an argument in favor of several other men—deserving men.
The saddest part of Manning's mock victory is that he was the winner by default in a year where voters had so many GREAT choices. So many players stepped up this year. So many good players turned into fantastic players...
...and none of them earned their recognition.
So, in honor of the REAL MVPs, I have created this list of athletes who inspired their teams all season long and better defined the term "most valuable."
The Real MVP: Chad Pennington
Do you know what they should re-name the Comeback Player of the Year award?
The consolation prize.
What a tragedy that this year's MVP got robbed. The real victims, other than Pennington himself, are the brave souls in Vegas who picked him with 10,000:1 odds to win the award.
What more can you say about the man?
He took a last-place team to the playoffs. His numbers were fantastic. He overcame a career full of injuries. His former team...oh, well, you get it.
The First Runner-Up: Philip Rivers
He will have his chance to prove why he SHOULD have finished higher on the ballot vis-a-vis Peyton Manning.
He will prove it by smashing the Colts in a few days' time.
Not only did he lead the league in QB rating, but he accomplished this feat by doing the two things that every football fan loves most:
1) He made few mistakes (a touchdown:interception ratio of 3-1)
2) He turned his season into the ultimate come-from-behind performance.
Those two reasons alone make him one of the most impressive quarterbacks in the game.
Would somebody like to explain to me how the Chargers are in the playoffs when their greatest-ever player put up 3.8 yards per carry?
Oh, that's right.
They had the most dependable quarterback in the game on their side.
The Second Runner-Up: Kurt Warner
"Peyton Manning won the MVP in Week 16..."
Well guess what?
Kurt Warner's team was on vacation during Week 16, since they had already qualified for the playoffs.
Where do we start? His numbers were better than Peyton's. His team also has no running game...
But what about the fact that he has two talented receivers on his squad? Surely they were the reason he put up 4,500 passing yards. Right? I've got a two-word rebuttal to that argument:
Steve Breaston (77 receptions, 1,006 yards).
The Best Football Player in the World: Andre Johnson
Whether or not he is the MVP depends upon your definition of the award. For some people, the award goes to the best overall football player. This year, that man was Andre Johnson.
This fantastic receiver did not lead his team to the playoffs. But he did lead a mediocre team to respectability.
The Texans deserve to be a 3-13 team. Andre Johnson makes them an 8-8 team. Matt Schaub deserves to be a second-tier quarterback. Andre Johnson helped him put up very respectable numbers.
You can look through Houston's game logs and actually see which wins Johnson single-handedly accounts for:
Week Six against Miami (178 Yards)
Week Seven against Detroit (141 Yards)
Week 12 against Cleveland (116 Yards)
Week 15 against Tennessee (207 Yards)
Week 17 against Chicago (148 Yards)
He might be the best receiver since Jerry Rice. What a shame that his meager surroundings have left him in a state of under-appreciation.
Honorable Mention: Michael Turner
Matt Ryan owes a big "Thank You" to the league's most surprising running back.
While the Boston College graduate deserves credit for helping to orchestrate this exciting turnaround, let's give credit where it's really due:
Michael Turner put up nearly 1,700 yards and a plethora of touchdowns in leading this impressive, over-achieving squad.
The only reason why he had no chance of winning the award is because his numbers are dwarfed by the recent achievements of other star running backs like L.T. and Shaun Alexander.
No, 17 TDs will not bring you anywhere near a record these days.
But it was still an incredible year for Michael Turner.
Honorable Mention: DeMarcus Ware
Alright, I'm not going to be the idealist who says that a defensive player should win the MVP. Nor will I act as though a single Cowboy should walk away from this season with their head held high.
But DeMarcus Ware is an absolute beast.
If only he were born a dozen years earlier, it would have been a pleasure watching him play for the Cowboys of the glory years (and I'm a 'Niners fan).
His 20 sacks easily lead the league in a year when many LB's and DE's distinguished themselves from the pack. He also added six forced fumbles to the mix.
To that end, he deserves to be the "Most Virile Player" in the game.
Honorable Mention: Drew Brees
Let's see...Are there any reasons why Drew Brees stood out?
Well, he did put up 5,000 yards. I guess that's kind of impressive. He helped just about every one of his fantasy owners waltz through their season. That's always nice.
The Saints' skipper never had a chance of winning this award, so long as many other QB's made it to the postseason, but his unreal numbers alone should have put him higher on the list than Peyton.