Don’t know if you caught this one:
— Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player. He got 48 of 50 first place votes.
— New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees was named the Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year. He got 43 of 50 first place votes.
Look, awards don’t have to make sense. They often don’t. There are controversial choices every year, inconsistent choices, bizarre choices. But this is one of the weirder ones I’ve ever seen. If Rodgers is the MVP isn’t he also the offensive player of the year? Last I checked, he only plays on offense. Then again, if Brees is offensive player of the year over Rodgers, isn’t he also the MVP over Rodgers? They play the same position. They both led their teams into the playoffs. This seems cartoonish.
When I tweeted this, people forcefully retweeted that this is no different than Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun winning the MVP and Los Angeles’ Matt Kemp winning the Hank Aaron Award. But, of course, this is nothing at all like that. The MVP and Hank Aaron are two different awards given by two different organizations with two different sets of voters. Braun and Kemp winning those two awards is like two different actors winning the Academy Award and the Golden Globe. They have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.*
*As an aside: I thought Kemp should have won the MVP, but I didn’t have a vote.
But this was the SAME ORGANIZATION giving awards to two different people. What were the voters saying? That Rodgers had better leadership skills but Brees played better? That Brees was more of an offensive force but Rodgers’ was more irreplaceable? I’m not sure how they could say that though … Rodgers sat out the last game of the season, and some guy named Matt Flynn — a seventh round pick back in 2008 — threw for 480 yards and six touchdowns.
This is the second time this nonsense has happened to Brees. In 2008, Peyton Manning was named MVP and Brees was named Offensive Player of the Year. Poor Drew … the writers must think his leadership skills are TERRIBLE. Or that he’s really hurt the team on special teams. This year, Brees broke Dan Marino’s almost-30-year record for most passing yards in a season. He led the NFL in touchdown passes. He set an NFL record by completing 71.2% of his passes. Seems pretty valuable. Plus don’t his teammates talk all the time about how he leads, how he inspires, haven’t there been like 10,000 stories about his leadership skills the last few years?
Brees did throw eight more interceptions than Rodgers (though he fumbled four fewer times). Maybe that made him less valuable. But apparently it didn’t prevent him from being a better offensive player.
So strange. They started giving out the NFL Offensive player of the Year in 1972 — and the first six years the OPOY was the same as the MVP. In 1978, for the first time, they diverged — running back Earl Campbell won OPOY, quarterback Terry Bradshaw the MVP. I guess I can see that. Two different positions. Two different responsibilities. I suppose you can make an argument that a quarterback could be more valuable than a running back. It happened again in 1980 when Campbell was OPOY and my hero Brian Sipe was MVP.
The first time a quarterback won the OPOY and did NOT win the MVP was 1982 and that was one of the strangest decisions in the history of of any award. Dan Fouts won the OPOY. Fair. He led the NFL in passing yards and touchdowns. But the MVP was … kicker Mark Moseley. The writers really decided that a kicker — A FREAKING KICKER — was the Most Valuable Player in the entire NFL.*
*By the way, do you know how many 50-plus yard field goals Moseley made in his MVP year? Answer: ZERO. … Do you know how many extra points he missed? THREE. I think we have a winner: The single worst award ever given any sport.
But as insane as that choice was, well, at least they didn’t pick another quarterback. No, it has only happened three times that a quarterback was named MVP over a quarterback who was offensive player of the year. It happened in 1990 when Warren Moon was OPOY and Joe Montana was MVP. And the other two times it has happened to the value-challenged Drew Brees.
It seems incredibly illogical to me. But my colleague Jim Trotter made a point that makes sense: This was probably just an effort by the voters to reward both players. They both unquestionably had incredible seasons — record breaking seasons (Rodgers set the record for highest quarterback rating). They both are deserving of awards. I guess my only question is this: How did they decide which was more “valuable” and which one was more “offensive?” And how is that 48 of the 50 came to the same conclusion?