Friday, January 2, 2009

Who the Hell Votes for the National Football League MVP?

The Most Valuable Player of the 2008 regular season was announced in the National Football League today. After tallying all the votes, Peyton Manning walked away with this third award, tying him for most in the modern era with fellow stat-monster, Brett Favre (man, do the hits just keep on comin' for his legacy).

The final count was 32 for the Indianapolis Colts' quarterback, four votes for Miami Dolphin QB Chad Pennington, four votes for Atlanta Falcon running back Michael Turner, three for Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker James Harrison, three for Minnesota Viking RB Adrian Peterson, two for San Diego QB Phillip Rivers, and one vote apiece for Tennessee Titan RB Chris Johnson and Arizona Cardinal QB Kurt Warner.

By my count that's 50 votes.

Since Tom Brady got 49 of 50 votes in 2007, I've gotta assume that these are 50 separate votes cast by 50 different people. The alternative is that people voted for Brady as first, second, and third choice last year—considering his year, that's altogether possible. Possible, and highly unlikely.

More probably, it means 32 people thought Peyton Manning was the NFL's MVP and 18 others went in a different direction.

I bet a lot of you think I'm about to bash Manning's win. Far from it. I absolutely think he should have won.

Nor does the landslide surprise or bother me. He deserved the award and I'd totally agree this is his most impressive body of work to date. Combine that with the lack of serious contenders and the drubbing makes perfect sense.

What bothers me is Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans receiving a vote as the 2008 NFL MVP.

Is that a joke? A political statement? A social one? Who cast that vote? We deserve answers to all those questions and many more.

Look, I'm sure Johnson is a perfectly likable dude, hard worker, family man, nice story, etc.

But, let me get this straight, somebody respected enough to possess a vote for one of the League's most coveted awards went with Chris Johnson? He/she seriously thought that the NFL MVP was a rookie who, not only didn't walk away with the Offensive Rookie of the Year award in a romp, he didn't even win it?

Matt Ryan owns that hardware.

Arguably, Chris Johnson wasn't even the most valuable rookie running back. I'd hand that accolade to Matt Forte of the Chicago Bears. Forte was asked to shoulder more of the burden for his team—both in terms of carries and pure offensive focus.

I think it's pretty tough to argue that one offensive rookie was the best while playing for a winning team, but a different one was the most valuable. Especially since Chris Johnson and Matt Ryan both had strong support.

Furthermore, look at the names that were totally shutout—Eli Manning, Drew Brees, Ryan, Kerry Collins, Matt Cassel, and Bryan Westbrook. You're telling me that Johnson was more important to his team's success than those guys?

Not to mention the guys who received votes. Oh, and Peyton Manning.

So I ask again, who the hell votes for these awards?

Some members of the national media are so concerned with pulling back the curtain on our sports heroes. They act like knowing each grim and gritty detail of an athlete's personal life is their duty. Like it's somehow relevant to the growth of our society, as if these men and women are politicians entrusted with the future of our country.

As if they are appropriate role models who must be vetted for weakness and sin.

Yet, where's the reciprocity? Where's the transparency in return?

Who and why are not terribly intimate questions.

However, I have yet to hear any demands for accountability from that wayward voter. And I'd be really interested to hear a defense because I really fail to see an acceptable one.

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