Aaron Rodgers is once again considered a candidate for the NFL’s Most Valuable MVP award, thanks to a prodigious return to form and a four game winning streak. The two-time MVP winner has a strong case, but he shouldn’t win.
Nobody should. The NFL’s MVP award is stupid. Here’s why.
First and foremost, it’s only semi-accurate to call this the NFL’s MVP award. The award is actually bestowed by the Associated Press, and they’re only considered the “official” recognition of the Most Valuable Player because the Associated Press is the last man standing in a decades-long media battle for survival. The AP has named an MVP since 1957, but several other news organizations who also had their own MVP award have come and gone since then.
As a result, the AP award has been semi-legitimized by the NFL Honors ceremony, created by the league in 2011. Still, the award technically isn’t bestowed by the league at all. It hasn’t officially recognized an MVP since the last version of the John F. Carr trophy was awarded in 1946.
Secondly, there’s the question of value. Numbers are easy; one can easily determine who has the most touchdown passes or rushing yards or interceptions, but it’s far more difficult to decide how “valuable” those contributions are to a team.
Take, for instance, the case of J.J. Watt. In 2014, he put up historic numbers on a terrible team. Was he a tremendous player? Certainly. Was he valuable to his team? Without a doubt. Did his contributions matter one bit, since his team was terrible? Not even slightly. Despite Watt’s heroics, Houston finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs.
There’s also the question of how much of a value a specific player is. Aaron Rodgers has been great over much of the second half of the season, but he’s still costing the Packers in the neighborhood of $20 million this season. Not much of a bargain to be had there.
Dak Prescott, meanwhile, is making just $545,000, and has been a big part of an excellent season for Dallas. If you’re looking for value, that’s it.
The entire debate around the award eventually reduces to “which quarterback on a playoff team put up the best numbers?” That’s uninteresting at best, and we can do better. Here’s what I propose.
Each of the NFL’s 32 teams should nominate a player who had a great season, then every player and coach in the league would vote on which season was the best. If the league wanted, it could prevent each team from voting for its own nominee to offset any homerism.
The player who receives the most votes will be named the league’s Most Outstanding Player, and that’ll be it. No long speculation over who’s a candidate. No debating candidates in the first week of October. No semantics over “value” or talking head shouting about what a guy meant to his team. A simple vote with one clearly recognized winner.
If only there were some sort of process in place already that could get this change rolling.