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Rodgers' MVP Perhaps The Most Valuable MVP

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Rodgers' MVP Perhaps The Most Valuable MVP

Now that Aaron Rodgers has been named the Associated Press’s Most Valuable Player of the 2011 NFL season, I will consider it open season to utter the most unpopular opinion a Packer fan could ever have.

Drew Brees deserved the MVP award this year.  For that matter, so did Tom Brady.  They had monstrous statistical seasons--record-breaking seasons, NFL benchmark seasons—that in nearly any other year would have and should have been rewarded with the honor of the MVP.

Now, do I believe that either quarterback deserved it more than Rodgers?  No, I don’t.  But had the final tally gone a different way, while being very disappointed, I wouldn’t have been surprised.  The MVP voting is always a fickle mistress, and you can’t always count on what’s “right”.

I mean, you do realize that when Dan Marino set the previous yards-in-a-season record in 1984, he was named the AP MVP that year, right?  There is a bit of a precedent for honoring a guy who breaks enormous records like that.  And this season, both Brees and Brady broke that record.  Rodgers, even if he would have played the last game of the regular season, wouldn’t have even cracked the top ten.

On the other hand, Rodgers set the new single-season passer rating mark, breaking Peyton Manning’s mark from 2004…the year Manning won the MVP.  Again, a precedent was set.

I can see this piece quickly devolving into a debate on who deserved the MVP and why, so let me stop you short right now.  I’m not trying to make a case that Rodgers shouldn’t have won.  I’m letting you know that this MVP award is that much more of an honor, given the stiff competition Aaron was up against.

To not recognize the fantastic seasons by Brees and Brady is not only obtuse, but detracts from the significance of what Rodgers accomplished.  He did not win the award in spite of Brees and Brady, nor in a vacuum, looking only at his own accomplishments without comparison.  No, Rodgers won, fair and square, measured pass-for-pass against two quarterbacks who also deserved it this year.  It just so happened that Rodgers did just a little bit more than the stat sheet shows.

Most of the time, the MVP award is a mixture of statistical considerations, but the very subjective perception of a player who captures the imagination of the nation.   Other things may play into it also, like whether the media thinks a player has “won it  before” or set a personal bar high enough.

Heck, Brett Favre’s first MVP performance in 1995 was based on a 4,413-yard season, barely inside the top-40 of all-time performances.  But, it was Favre’s play on the field, the capturing of America’s heart with his gutsy, improvised approach and endless highlights on SportsCenter that garnered that first award…not necessarily his stats.

But, as Rodgers scored a convincing 48-2 win over Brees in the MVP voting this season, who did Favre have to edge in 1995?  It’s a long trip down memory lane, but Favre beat out Jim Harbaugh, quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts.  Yes, Harbaugh beat out Favre in quarterback rating 100.7 to 99.5, but Harbaugh simply had a good season—nothing more.  2,575 yards, 17 touchdowns, with a 7-5 record?  You didn’t have to work too hard to beat that.

And that’s the point.  When the Packers finally came of age and captured the attention of America, the previous glory boys were in decline.  Troy Aikman was never the statistical machine, just a good game manager for the Super Bowl-winning Cowboys.  Steve Young’s MVP performance from 1994 went into decline as injuries mounted.  Favre won the MVP, and deserved to win the MVP.

But the reality is that he didn’t have nearly the competition that Aaron Rodgers had this season.

I do understand Brady not garnering a single vote this season.  In some ways, I see him in the same point in his career as Favre was in 2002.  Statistically, it had been Favre’s best season since his MVP years (along with a 12-4 record, the best in the NFL that season).  But Favre’s statistics weren’t viewed in a vacuum, comparing Favre only to Favre.  Rich Gannon had his statistically great season, throwing for 4,689 yards, the sixth-highest total ever at that time.

But, in my opinion, Favre’s previous awards went against him. While his stats were very good that year, they weren’t better than his 1990’s MVP seasons.  Thus, the fickleness of the voting process:  in 2002, the better statistical quarterback triumphed over the best-record quarterback.  In 2011, the reverse was true.

Is there a rule, a rhyme or reason we can divine from all of this?  Of course not:  each season is its own animal, and the reasons for why the AP writers cast their votes run the same gamut of reasons that we all talk about on Twitter and in the blogs.

But, let it be said:  Drew Brees could have easily walked away with his first MVP this season instead of Aaron Rodgers.  Both were deserving, and both set some incredible records that were precedential of winning the award.

In the end, our Aaron Rodgers took home the award, much to our delight as Packer fans.  But, because the case can be made for Brees (or Brady, for that matter), the honor that comes with that award is that much higher.

In order to be the best, you have to beat the best, and when it comes to MVPs, there may have never been so many titans deserving of the prize as there were in 2011.  Congrats to Aaron Rodgers for winning perhaps the Most Valuable MVP award.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

jack in jersey city's picture

right on! it's a huge honor to win the MVP award this year when QB play is off the charts. and to win it in such an overwhelming fashion makes me proud to have a-rod as our QB. also, aaron led the team to a 15-1 record with the worst defense in the NFL.

Walker's picture

"When the Packers finally came of age and captured the attention of America, the previous glory boys were in decline. Troy Aikman, whose Cowboys once ruled every prime-time slot, didn’t even make the playoffs. Steve Young’s MVP performance from 1994 went into decline as injuries mounted."

The Cowboys not only made the playoffs in '95, they beat Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl. They made the playoffs again in '96 but lost to Carolina.

CD Angeli's picture

Good my seasons jumbled. Fixed the post. Thanks.

PackersRS's picture

Very good take CD. Agreed fully.

Simply put, I've never seen a QB play as well as Rodgers did this season, particularly early on. Never.

It needs to be said that I've only seen Montana play in tape (full games). Same with Marino, Starr... (not only I had no interest in football in my early youth, but also the games didn't broadcast to Brazil back then).

However, I've seen Favre, Young, old Elway, Aikman, Warner, Brady, Manning. None of them, not even Manning in 04 and Brady in 07, have achieved the level of play Rodgers did this season. A virtually flawless play, with the added benefit of extreme mobility and accuracy outside the pocket.

I don't know if he can repeat what he did this year. He doesn't necessarily need to in order for us to win the SB, and I have complete faith he can and will have monster games in the postseason. But to have a stretch of, what, 13 games above 110 qb rating? Never going to happen again.

Jake's picture

Yeah... but QB rating doesn't matter anymore...

PackersRS's picture

It's all about the yards and QBR...

Jake's picture


Barutan Seijin's picture

Putting aside the inevitable Favre-it-ism, this isn't a very strong argument. If Brady and Brees were right there with Rodgers, how much more valuable was Rodgers?

Mike M's picture


foundinidaho's picture

Good piece, CD. I think Rodgers willed the Packers to more than one victory this season and for that, he was much more valuable than Brady or Brees to their teams.

Bearmeat's picture

You know what: That picture of Aaron looks a heck of a lot like Steve Karrel in Office Space... ROFLOL!

NFL Stadiums's picture

So who did beat Favre out for the award in 1995? I would have to guess John Elway without googling the answer.

Pack66's picture

Eli Manning should have been the MVP....Hands down...Gee, he only won his SECOND SB....instead of Aaron "I'll crap down my leg at home in the playoffs" Rodgers...

If Favre did that, you'd all be crucifying him!

Man, smell the HYPOCRISY coming out of Cheeseland...smells like...VICTORY!

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