Featured image via Perry Knots/NFL
So during the NFLHonors celebration of the NFL celebrating how awesome the NFL is, we learned what most people fully expected: the 2014 season MVP is…Quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It’s far from a bad choice. Rodgers had a fantastic season and most certainly is deserving of the honor. But yet another year has come and gone, and yet again a QB has won the most valuable player award. How many QBs have won the MVP award? Since 2000, a QB has won the award 11 times. 12 times if you count the dual win of Steve McNair and Peyton Manning in 2003. The MVP award has been going for 57 years, and QBs have won it 38 times (39 if again, you count the dual-win). A defensive player hasn’t won since 1986 with Lawrence Taylor, and it’s only happened twice to begin with (As a quirky side note, Mark Moseley of the 1982 Redskins won the MVP, and he was a placekicker). The remaining MVP awards have all been won by…Runningbacks.
The MVP award is a giant circle-jerk for the most important positions in football. Okay, so MVP does indeed stand for “most Valuable Player”, so it makes sense to award the MVP to the best player at the most valuable positions. But that kind of diminishes the achievements of every other position in the game.
What JJ Watt did this season was utterly remarkable in every way and if all positions were created equal he would have (or should have) won. But they aren’t. JJ Watt plays defensive end. His position is inherently less valuable than a QB. Like it or not, Blaine Gabbert is more valuable on the football field than JJ Watt, because QB (good or bad) is simply more valuable than DE. Why have an award that is so inherently biased to begin with? It used to be a Running league, and RBs won. Now it’s a QB driven league, and QBs always win. It’s basically a way for the best positions to pat each other on the back. This feels…weird when the sport is so team oriented.
I think the NFL should eliminate the MVP award, or make it so that “Offensive/Defensive Player of the Year” is changed to “Offensive/Defensive MVP”. Right now, we have split awards for both sides of the ball for rookies, and for player of the year. But because the MVP award is skewed towards two offensive positions, the MVP is, in reality, the OPOTY, and the OPOTY award basically goes to the MVP runner up.
Think about it, how often do these positions match each other? When QBs win, the OPOTY is almost always the best RB that season. When a RB wins, the OPOTY is almost always the best QB. The OPOTY award is really the MVP, and the MVP winner is the OPOTY in all but name only. The OPOTY is MVP Runner-up. The MVP award diminishes the awards for other players on the same side of the ball. This would be true if it was skewed defensively as well: If the MVP was always, say, a CB, and the DPOTY was a DE, doesn’t that basically mean the CB was really also the DPOTY? They were both defensive players, how can one win the MVP award and not also basically be the DPOTY?
So why do we have an MVP award? In practice choosing a player from a pool of all positions sounds like a fair idea, but in practice it just doesn’t seem fair. It’s biased towards certain positions, and it diminishes the POTY winner by virtue of it’s existence. So I say get rid of it, or split it up. Remove the OPOTY/DPOTY and make them Offensive and Defensive MVPs. Offensively, it’ll still be QB/RB biased, but it won’t make one award a “runner-up”. It also gives the Defensive Winner a slightly more enhanced profile, because it’ll be viewed evenly with the offensive side. This year’s MVPs would have been Aaron Rodgers and JJ Watt, and frankly, I think that is a just result.