Throughout the 2012 NFL season, fans witnessed the year of the rookies, incredible comebacks from key players in the league, defensive stalwarts that dominated the gridiron, and also the rise and fall of several teams that should, or should not have, ended the season where they did in the standings. But the biggest debate of all is who was really the NFL MVP in a season when two stood out among the masses: Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning and Minnesota Vikings RB Adrian Peterson.
On Saturday, the Associated Press will announce the AP Most Valuable Player Award which, surprise, is sponsored by none other than Papa John’s Pizza, in which Manning owns 21 stores throughout the Denver area. As good as these two players are, and how valuable both are to their respective teams, one touches the ball on every snap, while the other garners only about 30 touches a game. But Papa John will not be deciding the recipient of this award.
It is no wonder why most of the MVP awards go to quarterbacks, as they are the leaders of their teams, and control more of their teams’ destiny than a running back ever will. But let’s put some numbers into perspective. Peterson was 9 yards shy of the greatest rushing effort ever in the history of the NFL. 9 yards. Peterson played on a team that was 10-6 in 2012, after winning only 3 games the year before. Peterson also tore his ACL last December and was able to come back from the injury within a seven month time in order to be able to play this year.
But the biggest difference in the seven game swing for the Vikings was the play of QB Christian Ponder, whom Minnesota gave the full reigns to in the off-season after last year’s debacle with Donovan McNabb. The offensive line for the Vikings was fierce in opening holes for Peterson, but the improvement of Ponder was their biggest difference. Peterson did not score a touchdown in seven games in 2012. He only had 12 on the year, while accounting for over 2,300 yards from scrimmage. That nine yards though, is a tough pill to swallow.
Peyton Manning, by contrast, only came back from four neck surgeries to play for a different team, in a different system, and led the Broncos to a 13-3 record while touching the ball on every snap. Manning accounted for 37TDs, over 4,600 yards and a QB Rating of 105.8, at the age of 36. The Broncos claimed the top seed in the AFC and tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the best record in the NFL. Manning had nine games with 300 or more yards, and nine games with 3 TDs.
Manning elevated, not only the play of the offense, but the defense as well. Manning took the reigns in Denver and brought them to the playoffs while winning five more games than a year ago when the Broncos went to the playoffs with Tim Tebow as their QB. But the award is not based on playoffs. The award is for regular season MVP, and clearly it is difficult to argue that Peterson had more value to the Vikings than Manning had for the Broncos.
The Associated Press has a tough decision to make about the recipient of this award, but the numbers do not lie. Any player that can come into a new team at the age of 36 and command them like Manning did in 2012 while posting the numbers he has, deserves the award. I have enjoyed watching Peterson run all year, and rooted for him to top the Eric Dickerson‘s record. Peterson is a special talent that fans should be fortunate to see in their lifetime. But he is not the one this year. Unfortunately, the QB will usually get the nod, and that is what Manning should get from the AP.
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