This season’s MVP debate has dwindled down to a two-man race in recent weeks. Peyton Manning‘s rebirth in Denver and Adrian Peterson‘s medical miracle with the Vikings have taken center stage and those two players appear to be the only contenders remaining — at least, that’s the idea floating around the NFL. The league’s reigning MVP might have something to say about that, though.
Aaron Rodgers, who won the award in 2011, has flown well under the radar for much of the 2012 season, even being criticized for poor performances early on. Rodgers threw just three touchdowns and two interceptions as the Packers got off to a 1-2 start to the season — their worst three-game start with Rodgers under center. Since that “horrific” (and I use that term sarcastically) start, Rodgers has played nothing short of stellar, and the Packers have gone on quite a run.
Rodgers has scored 34 touchdowns (32 passing and two running) and thrown just six interceptions in the Packers’ past 12 games, leading them to a 10-2 record over that stretch. Beyond the numbers, though, Rodgers’ impact on Green Bay’s success this season has been vital.
Behind Rodgers’ stewardship, Green Bay has now won four straight games, clinched the NFC North title and, with a win over Peterson’s Vikings on Sunday, will secure a first-round bye in the playoffs. Talk about leadership — all of that’s got to be worth something, if not an MVP.
Now, what Peterson has accomplished (leading the NFL in rushing and chasing Eric Dickerson‘s single-season rushing record, especially coming off a surgically repaired knee injury) is phenomenal. Manning’s renaissance on a new team, coming off of a career-threatening neck injury, is just as sensational a story. But the MVP isn’t given out for the best or most inspirational story. (That’s why there’s a Comeback Player of the Year award.) Not to say that Manning or Peterson wouldn’t be valid choices for the MVP, but the fact that Rodgers is being overlooked is ludicrous.
Rodgers may not be the sexy choice this year, as all the buzz has seemed to elude him for reasons still unbeknownst to me, but Rodgers is just as critical to the Packers’ success as Manning or Peterson is to the Broncos’ or Vikings’, which makes him more than worthy of consideration for the MVP.
There’s still one week to play in this NFL season, and plenty can change in a single game. Whatever the outcome of this final set of games, whether Peterson breaks the longstanding record, earning him the award, or Manning throws five touchdowns to clinch the AFC’s No. 1 seed, all but clinching his record fifth MVP, Rodgers at least belongs in the most valuable conversation.