Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees Deserve to Share the Honor of 2011 NFL MVP

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJanuary 29, 2012

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 08: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers talks with Drew Brees #9 of the New Orleans Saints after the NFL opening season game at Lambeau Field on September 8, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Saints 42-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

If ever there was a year that deserved NFL co-MVPs, it is this one.

How exactly do you choose between Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees?

In the 15 games he played, Rodgers led the Green Bay Packers to a 14-1 mark, was second in the league in touchdown passes (45), fifth in the league in passing yards (4,643), second in the league in completion percentage (68.3), first in the league in quarterback rating (his 122.5 mark is the best passer rating in NFL history) and amazingly only threw six interceptions on the year.

If the Packers had finished the regular season undefeated there wouldn't even be a debate for the MVP—it would unquestionably be Rodgers.

But the Packers did lose to the Kansas City Chiefs, and Rodgers struggled in that game, opening up the debate that the historic season of Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints be considered.

Brees set NFL records this year for passing yards (5,476) and broke his own record for completion percentage (71.2) this year. That level of efficiency is absurd.

He also led the league in touchdowns (46), was second in quarterback rating (110.2), led the Saints to a 13-3 regular season and only threw 14 interceptions in 16 games.

So how do you choose?

On one hand, Rodgers won the head-to-head matchup between the two in Week 1, 42-34. He only had one loss on the year, would have led the league in touchdowns if he had played in Week 17 and—in an offense incredibly reliant on the passing game—only threw six interceptions.

Seriously, I can't get over how remarkable that last stat is.

But Brees surpassed one of the most revered NFL records this year: passing yards in a season. Actually, that's an understatement—he smashed Dan Marino's previous record (5,084) by 392 yards!

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Tom Brady (R) #12 of the New England Patriots talks with commentator Jim Nantz (L) after defeating the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The New Engl
Elsa/Getty Images

That reminds me—Tom Brady also surpassed Marino this year, throwing for 5,235 yards.

In almost any other year in NFL history, Brady would be a lock for the MVP. Along with his remarkable yardage totals, he also threw 39 touchdowns (fourth in the NFL), had a completion percentage of 65.5 (fourth in the NFL), finished with a 105.6 quarterback rating (third in the NFL), only threw 12 interceptions and led the New England Patriots to 13-3 regular-season record.

But if I had a vote, this decision would ultimately come down to Rodgers or Brees.

There is a precedent for a co-MVP award. Consider 2003, as Michael Hurley of NESN.com did, noting that season "16 voters selected Peyton Manning as the MVP, and 16 voters selected Steve McNair, thus leading to the two players sharing co-MVP honors."

And MVP voters can split their vote, as Peter King noted in his column on January 2:

I could go Brees, or I could go Rodgers, or I could, as I've done before, split my vote half and half. I thought a lot about doing that, and I can see why some voters might do that. Unlike baseball, the football MVP is done by voting for first place. Not first, second and third, or more than that. Just one vote. So that was a consideration in a very tight race.

Some may call that a cop-out (King actually said he would be voting for Rodgers because he felt a split vote was, in fact, a cop-out) but I disagree. This year, it is clear that two men and two men alone deserve to be the NFL MVP.

That's not a cop-out. That's justice.

So here's to hoping Rodgers and Brees are co-MVPs this year. It's unlikely that we will see any two players as deserving of the honor in years to come as these two were this year.

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