Play the old ‘OK, you’ve got one football game to win’ deal. Who do you want as your quarterback?
If that game is being played tomorrow, every owner/GM/coach in the NFL is picking Tom Brady. That is the definition of being “most valuable,” but as we’ve seen countless times in the NFL and other pro sports leagues over the years - the “most valuable” player does not always win the league MVP award at the end of the season.
There are too many other factors that come into play for voters, starting with voter fatigue. Joe Montana is widely regarded as the top pre-Tom Brady quarterback of all-time, and the guy won MVP just two times (same as Brady, FYI) in his illustrious career.
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The all-time list of NFL MVPs is littered with one hit wonders. In 1980, Brian Sipe (who?!) won league MVP award. Ken Anderson won the following year. Mark Moseley the year after that. Rich Gannon won in 2002.
In the NBA, Charles Barkley won the MVP award in 1993 and Karl Malone won it in 1997. Two great players there, but Michael Jordan was still hands down the best player in the league at that point.
Now, I get that the voting is done based on one particular year, but “body of work” really and truly has to come into play at some point. Believe it or not, you can get lucky 16 times over the course of one season.
There’s also this. Brady, much like Montana, is a victim of his own team’s success when it comes to the individual award of MVP. Both of those guys sacrificed individual statistics over wins, something you can’t exactly say for four-time MVP winner Peyton Manning. It says a whole lot that Manning has two times the number of MVP awards as Brady, and Brady has two times the number of Super Bowl titles as Manning.
If winning is the most valued thing in sports, then Brady sure as hell should have won more than two MVPs over the past 15 years and Bill Belichick sure as hell should have won more than three coach of the year awards in that span.
But, like with everything else, success breeds fatigue, and in turn, Brady is a boring pick for MVP right now.
Voters want to be perceived as being on the “cutting edge” of things, they want to “get out in front” of things, they want to be able to say – “see told ya so.” That’s why either Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott or Raiders quarterback Derek Carr is gonna win this thing. They are both top dogs on franchises that are finally winning after sucking for years. They are the shiny new toys.
It also doesn’t hurt that Elliott and Carr both play for NFL legacy teams, and NFL MVP voters love to eat their Member Berries (hey ‘memba when the Cowboys and Raiders were good? Reminds me of my childhood! I love nostalgia! Vote Trump … err, Carr!).
There’s a great chance Elliott’s Cowboys and/or Carr’s Raiders wind up 7-9 next season and both players get lumped into the second tier in their respective positions. But nothing that happened in the past and nothing that will happen in the future matters right now when it comes to the 2016 MVP award.
Body of work and projection do not matter. It’s only, “what have you done for me lately?”
Brady has been excellent since he returned from his four-game suspension, but he’s slipped a tad in the past few weeks statistically. Plus, the Brady Deflategate backlash to the backlash to the backlash has subsided. It’s an old topic.
This is Brady’s last great opportunity to win the MVP award, but it won’t happen.
Fatigue makes cowards out of MVP voters.