Point/counterpoint: Who has been the NFL's MVP this year?

BY DI STAFF | DECEMBER 15, 2011 7:20 AM

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Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay QB

Aaron Rodgers is the best player in the NFL.

The Green Bay quarterback has led the Packers to a 13-0 record, and he should be awarded for his efforts with his first NFL MVP award.

Rodgers leads the league in almost every major passing category, including completion percentage (70.9), touchdowns (39), and QB rating (123.3). He's also third in passing yards with 4,125 — and he recorded those yards on 58 fewer pass attempts than No. 2 Tom Brady (4,273 yards) and 105 fewer than No. 1 Drew Brees (4,368). Simply put, Rodgers is having the best season for any player at the most important position on the field.

As for Rodgers' competition, it's pretty clear that the award deserves to go to the Green and Gold QB. New England's Rob Gronkowski is having a great season, but he is aided by one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time — Brady — and has All Pro wideout Wes Welker to draw attention away from him.

Despite his stellar 7-1 record as a starter, the MVP cannot go to a player that plays abysmal football for three quarters before miraculously rallying for wins. Tim Tebow may help the Denver Broncos win the AFC West, but he is not the NFL's MVP. He isn't even the Broncos' MVP; the defense as a whole deserves that award.

As for Peyton Manning, a player who did not play a snap cannot be the MVP. The Colts wouldn't be a playoff team, even with Manning.

The Packers may be on their way to becoming one of the greatest NFL teams of all time. And Rodgers, the man who has led them there, deserves the NFL MVP to go with last year's Super Bowl MVP.

— by Ryan Murphy

Rob Gronkowski, New England TE

The way Aaron Rodgers has played quarterback this year, he should run away with the MVP award.
But as a Viking fan (what up, No. 2 draft pick), I'm obligated to argue for someone else: Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Rodgers has his championship-belt dance, and Tebowing has become a cultural phenomenon, but Gronkowski first got attention for something more racy.

Earlier in the year, Gronk had to apologize to Patriot owner Robert Kraft after photos hit the Internet of the tight end posing shirtless while an adult-film actress wore his jersey.

Besides dominating the sports sections of various gossip rags, Gronk has dominated the field and become the best tight end in the game.

This is coming from someone who has owned Gronkowski the past two years in fantasy football: This guy has played tight end in a fashion never been seen before.

The second-year player from Arizona set the single-season record for receiving touchdowns by a tight end, with 15 — in Week 14. He has three more regular-season games to blow the record wide open.

He's arguably the Patriots' lone red-zone target, has 71 receptions on the year for almost 1,200 yards, and he averages more than 15 yards per catch.

Gronkowski's superior athleticism and power allow him to make catches while breaking numerous tackles, as if he was playing NFL Blitz.

Did I mention he celebrates his touchdowns by trying to spike the ball as hard as he can and has been fined by the NFL because of his awesomeness?

He draws the attention of defenses each week, but Gronk has been unstoppable anyway. He has helped carry the Patriots to a 10-3 record, and he is on pace for a ridiculous 87 catches for 1,339 yards and 20 scores.

These numbers are truly remarkable, and Gronkowski deserves to be measured against the NFL's elite.

— by Ben Wolfson

Tim Tebow, Denver QB

The word "leader" is used often in sports, sometimes simply as an adjective for a team's best player.

Tim Tebow is far from being the NFL's best passer. But over the past two months, he has proven to be one of the true elite leaders in the league.

He has led Denver to a 7-1 record since taking over the starting role for the Broncos in Week 7, effectively Tebowing his team into wild-card contention.

The NFL is a league driven by the win-loss columns, and that alone is enough to put Tebow in the MVP discussion — and in my mind, it's enough for him to win the award.

No, he isn't anywhere near the statistical levels of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, or Tom Brady. Watching him throw a football might be painful, and there's no doubt he still has a lot to improve upon.

But Tebow also has some positive numbers that make him a clear improvement over former Denver signal-caller Kyle Orton. Orton threw 7 interceptions and lost 2 fumbles through five games, while Tebow has only thrown 2 interceptions and lost 3 fumbles in eight starts. Taking care of the ball has been a big reason Tebow has been successful and a big reason the Broncos have turned around what was once a hopeless season.

Then, there are the intangibles Tebow seems to have already mastered. Saying he wills his team to victory is cliché — but if anyone in the NFL does it, it's Tebow. Jim Rome asked Denver wideout Eric Decker on Monday how much of an impact Tebow has had on the team; Decker could only say, "It's indescribable."

The way his teammates — both on offense and defense — appear to have rallied around Tebow is undeniably incredible.

What's important to remember is that this isn't an argument for the NFL's best or most skilled player. This is about who is most valuable to their team.

And right now, no one is more valuable than Tebow.

— by Ben Schuff

Peyton Manning, Indianapolis QB

The NFL's Most Valuable Player award is given to, by definition, "The player who is considered most valuable in the league." After his participation this season — or lack thereof — it's obvious that no player in the NFL is more important to his team than Peyton Manning.

Manning already has more MVP trophies than anyone else in the award's 54-year history, with four. Manning put up gaudy numbers during those years and led the Colts to two Super Bowls — he won one of them — and appeared in funny commercials. (That is, if you like 6-5, 230 pound quarterbacks with laser-rocket arms).

But Manning has been held out of the 2011-12 season with a neck injury. The Colts responded by signing wily veteran Kerry Collins to lead an offense that has no lack of talent with Dallas Clark, Reggie Wayne, and Joseph Addai.

Collins struggled mightily and was later placed on injured reserve. He was succeeded by Curtis Painter, who has the glorious flow of "Sunshine" from Remember the Titans but hardly the arm strength or accuracy.

The Colts now find themselves looking at a 0-13 record — they had a total of 15 losses between 2007-10 under Manning — and have a legitimate shot at drafting long-term quarterback solution Andrew Luck.

That's quite a drop-off from an Indianapolis team that has averaged just under 12 wins a season since Manning's rookie début and won the Super Bowl in 2006.

Now, I know: Manning can't be blamed for the Colts' lack of a defense or special teams this season, can he? All Manning did was run a complex offense to perfection, orchestrate fourth-quarter comebacks, and score points — all of which puts less pressure on the rest of the team. Without being able to rely having 28-plus points to work with each game, the defense found itself in panic mode after realizing it would actually be needed to win games, not just keep them close.

So who's your MVP pick? Tom Brady? Yawn. Aaron Rodgers? Gimme a break. Tim Tebow? Vomit. Manning is the only player, by far, to ever assert his dominance without playing a single snap on the football field.

— by Ben Ross

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