With only three games left in the regular season debate is intensifying about who should be this year’s NFL MVP.

Friends of mine, like so many others, believe the MVP award, at least at this point in the season, must go to Peyton Manning, who like the mythical Phoenix has risen from the possible ashes of his career, to lead Denver to a playoff berth by having yet another remarkable season of quarterback play.

I’m in the camp that says the MVP award has already been locked up by the Vikings all-world running back, Adrian Peterson, who after a devastating knee injury a year ago is by any measure having one of the most astounding seasons in the history of the NFL and is the only real offensive threat the Vikings have.

Adrian Peterson

But in an age when passing dominates the offensive game plan and running backs are seen as an interchangeable dime a dozen, Adrian Peterson is the decided underdog in the MVP race.  While I understand that this is the way things are these days, it doesn’t mean I have to like it or accept it.

What I do know is the MVP debate is largely about semantics.  Most valuable player – what does that really mean?  The fact is it means whatever someone wants it to mean.  And in the NFL, most of those in a position to vote and bestow awards have decided that the league’s MVP honor is essentially a best quarterback award.

I believe the only way to level the playing field in this terribly skewed argument is to change the terms and language of the discussion.

The best way to do it is to eliminate the MVP and replace it with the BFP – Best Football Player.  This would allow voters to consider the whole football player – his skills, accomplishments, impact, leadership and the player’s overall badass-ness.    With a formula like that I can assure you that quarterbacks wouldn’t win most of the time.

Boxing has just such an equivalency formula.  It’s called the best boxer pound for pound.  It’s a way of judging who the most skilled boxer is considering all factors.  And allows for a way to surmise theoretically how a heavyweight like Mike Tyson might fare against a middleweight like Marvin Hagler – all things being equal.  Or how today’s pound for pound champion Floyd Mayweather actually stacks up against one of the huge hard-hitting heavyweight champion Klitschko brothers.

The same should be done in football to even the odds that have been stacked against players at positions other than quarterback.  Of course quarterbacks play a significant role for every team, and have a disproportionate effect on the outcome of games, but they are not always the best football players on the field.  Last I counted there were 21 other players blocking, tackling, running and catching.  All of them matter.  And a few of them who don’t take snaps from center are actually the best players in the game.

So by my revised standard, the BFP, or best football player this season is Adrian Peterson.  He is a beast.   He is strong and powerful, extremely fast and elusive, and has successfully overcome an injury no football player has a right to heal from this quickly.  Adrian Peterson is simply not human.

History though has been kind to non-quarterbacks in this debate.  For years Jim Brown was almost universally considered the all-time best football player.

Modern evaluators now say the greatest football player in history is probably Jerry Rice.   In my lifetime no quarterback has ever been considered for that prestigious honor.  Fair enough.

 

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