But I can’t sit here and argue that Manning was disrespected or robbed by Peterson’s victory Saturday night.
Peterson was tremendously deserving of the MVP honor. The performances by Manning and Peterson in 2012 will go down in NFL history. Both players were phenomenal, and both are future Hall of Famers who were at their very best this season.
The fact that Peterson -- the Minnesota running back received 30.5 of the votes while Manning received the other 19.5 -- won the award doesn’t take away from Manning’s special season. The same would have been said for Peterson had Manning won.
Peterson, who tore his anterior cruciate and medial collateral ligaments in the penultimate game of the 2011 season, but ended the 2012 season nine yards shy of breaking the single-season rushing record, also won the NFL Offensive Player of the Year award. Manning won the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award.
I would've thought it a major slight had Peterson swept all three awards. But the fact that Manning -- who has won the MVP award four times and who was second for another three -- won the comeback player of the year is justified. It was arguably the greatest comeback season of all time.
Manning, who will turn 37 next month, missed all of the 2011 season with a neck injury that required four surgeries. When Denver signed him last March, Manning’s health was the biggest question in the NFL.
He went on to have a brilliant season. His Total QBR, a rating that measures a quarterback’s total impact, was an NFL-best 84.1, and the second-highest Total QBR of the past five years. He led Denver, which was 8-8 in 2011, to a 13-3 season and an 11-game winning streak to end the regular season. Denver, which had the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs, was shocked by Baltimore in double overtime in the divisional round. The MVP vote is all based on the regular season.
I thought Manning was more valuable to his team than Peterson was to his, and Manning elevated the play of all of his teammates. Plus, quarterback is the most important position on the field. But again, I take nothing away from Peterson’s season.
And nothing should be taken away from the success of Manning’s season because of the second-place MVP finish.
The reality is that Manning is still playing at a high level, and he should be a top-level player for at least the next two years. The fact that he didn’t snare his fifth MVP award doesn’t diminish anything.