Chris Johnson is Offensive Player of the Year, But Not MVP. Uh, Okay?

One would assume that unless the NFL MVP award went to a defensive player (Ha. Like that ever happens) whoever is voted the Offensive Player of the Year would also be the Most Valuable Player. Peyton Manning doesn't play both ways, does he? ↵

↵Even though Chris Johnson didn't receive a single MVP vote, he has been deemed the best offensive player in pro football during the 2009 season. The argument that the MVP award almost always goes to the best quarterback, or the best offensive player on the team with the best record, is a cynical, trite and also fairly true one. ↵

↵

↵The last time an MVP went to a non-QB on a team with fewer than 10 wins was 1997, when Barry Sanders shared the honor with Brett Favre. That year, Sanders finished with more than 2,000 yards rushing for a 9-7 Lions team. Gee. That sounds kind of familiar. Good to know the writers have gotten it right at least once in the past. Of course, that Lions team also made the playoffs, so perhaps that was what separates the two in voters' minds. Also, Sanders was a household name by that point in his career. Johnson, while popular among NFL fans, doesn't have anywhere near as much star power. ↵

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↵Granted, voters could take things such as leadership into account when considering a player's value. On that score, Peyton is far and away more valuable to the Colts than Chris Johnson is to the Titans. But is it fair to take that intangible into account? By the very nature of the position, a quarterback is almost always more central to an offensive gameplan than a running back, no matter how good that running back is. While the Colts fell apart with Curtis Painter under center instead of Manning, the same would hold true for at least another half dozen QBs in the league. If leadership is going to swing the vote, you might as well branch off another Best QB award. ↵

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↵It could be that Offensive Player of the Year is simply thought to be a consolation prize for players with gaudy stats. Last year when Manning won for the third time, OPOY went to Drew Brees for nearly breaking Dan Marino's single-season record for passing yards. But would have Brees been MVP if, with the same stats, the 2008 Saints had the same record as the 2009 Saints? It's quite possible. ↵

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↵In the end, these secondary awards seem like cop-outs for voters who can't stray from the popular choice at MVP, the way worthy Oscar runners-up often get fobbed off with Best Director or Best Screenplay awards when snubbed for Best Picture. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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