As the fog of the holiday eggnog lifts and members of the Associated Press panel prepare to cast their vote for the NFL’s most valuable player, let’s take a brief moment for sober reflection.
In this two-horse race between Peyton Manning and Adrian Peterson, how should voters measure value? We don’t have to grasp at straws here.
One common measure is “value in exchange”, the comparative worth of two players, which is best illustrated by a proverbial tit-for-tat trade. Let us imagine for a moment: if Manning was donning purple and gold when the season commenced, with Peterson playing at Mile High, how would things have unfolded? Is there even one person on the face of God’s green earth that could suggest a plausible scenario by which Peterson could have propelled the Broncos to AFC home field advantage and Super Bowl favorite? There’s your relative value.
Another metric is “utility derived value”, which focuses on outcomes, namely wins. The statistics speak for themselves here, with Manning the clear victor, but let’s dig a little deeper and look at scoring, and each candidate’s respective contribution. Despite his impressive ground numbers, Peterson only pierced the goal line 13 times this season, compared to Manning’s 37. RBs and QBs, apples and oranges, you might say? Fair enough, so let’s compare other MVP running back performances. In 2006 the last MVP running back, LaDainian Tomlinson, gained more overall yards than Peterson while scoring more than twice as many TDs – 31 vs. Peterson’s 13. In 1998 Denver’s MVP running back, Terrell Davis, pierced the 2,000 yard mark and scored 23 TDs. Oh, and he won his second Super Bowl in a row that season as well.
The bottom line, whether we’re talking dollars or sense, is that from a value perspective, Peyton Manning far and away provided his team with the biggest net benefit this season. Peterson racked up yards, but not points, and not as many wins.
Yo, Adrian. We love the way you run, but MVP? You don’t even belong in the top three ahead of the Pats and Pack’s fine QBs. Does this mean the MVP calculus favors QBs? Of course. ‘Tis the nature of the game. But this doesn’t mean voters should take it upon themselves to deliberately skew the value equation in a feeble attempt to even the scales.
There is another prestigious award recognizing brilliant offensive play, and Peterson deserves serious consideration for coming so close to Dickerson’s NFL rushing record. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Perfect Peyton Manning, P-2, surpassed his previous career-high completion percentage and the expectations of every football pundit from coast to coast, while making Denver one of only four teams in NFL history to win ten consecutive games by at least seven points, his MVP prospects seem to be dimming. Voters are displaying clear and all-too-predictable lemming-like tendencies to go with the fickle flavor du jour amidst the euphoria over the Vikings’ end-of-season victory.
But far more numerous was the herd of such, Who think too little, and who talk too much.
-- John Dryden
Selah. Denver’s new Terminator, P-2, won’t lose any sleep over this silly slight. After overcoming a catastrophic neck injury and taking Denver to the top of the regular season mountain, Peyton is squarely focused on leading his team to the promised land. After a mid-January mile-high smack-down followed by a Boston strangling, look for P-2 to march the Broncos to victory in the Big Easy. And when he raises the Super Bowl trophy above his head, the whole world will know who the real MVP is. Even AP.