The Indianapolis Colts are living a nightmare. This team went 14-2 and played in the Super Bowl two years ago, but now can’t win a game to save their necks. There was no roster overhaul, either; the only notable player missing from that Super Bowl team is Colts quarterback Peyton Manning. Without playing a down this season, there’s no question Manning deserves the NFL MVP award.
In this modern football world of high-powered offenses and finesse game plans, the trophy that goes to the league’s most valuable player has now become a popularity contest. Now it goes to the most publicized player on the best team. Most of the time, that player isn’t the league’s most valuable.
Never has one player made such a difference in a football team’s success as Manning does to the Colts. In the NBA, it’s common for one superstar to carry a team. Football is different; there are a lot more players in action at once.
The Colts have been one of the most feared teams in the NFL for over a decade. Now, they’re the punch line of the NFL without Manning.
What about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, you ask? I’ll tell you. The Patriots went 11-5 in the one season they had to endure without Brady since his era began in Foxborough. Halfway through the 2011 season without Manning, the Colts are the only winless team in the NFL.
The Patriots went 11-5 in 2008 with Matt Cassel at quarterback, a young man who never took a snap while attending USC. His team was fresh off a Super Bowl, similar to the Colts’ situation this season. Cassel finished the season with a passer rating of 89.4 while completing 63.4 percent of his passes. Not too shabby considering the record-breaking offense he had to work with.
In Manning’s absence, Curtis Painter is driving the Colts’ high-powered offense, or at least he’s trying to drive it. Painter was a three-year starter at Purdue, but cannot seem to make anything happen with all the explosive weapons he possesses within the Colts’ offense. Through six starts this season, his passer rating is a lowly 70.5 and his completion percentage is even worse at 53.3.
So how can two inexperienced quarterbacks fare so differently while directing such high-powered offenses?
The difference in these two teams’ scenarios is simple; Manning. He redefines the world “valuable” in the NFL. If a 35-year-old quarterback’s presence is the difference in a team contender for the Super Bowl or the first overall draft pick, he deserves the MVP award.
This season has shown us how insignificant the NFL’s MVP award has become. Of course, Manning won’t actually be awarded the trophy this year, but the voters will be thinking about him when they fill out their ballots at the end of the season. For the Colts to be so good with Manning in the lineup and so bad without him, the league’s most valuable player is an obvious choice.
There are so many players in the league who are the most valuable to their respective teams, but will never be recognized as that. If Manning deserves the award in a season he doesn’t even play, it’s high time those other players that give their all every single play are awarded for it.
“Peyton Manning for NFL MVP 2011” The campaign has begun.
Contact Jeric Griffin on Twitter @JericGriffin