Quick trivia question: how many wide receivers have been named NFL Most Valuable Player?
Answer: a big, fat zero.
That’s right, not even Jerry Rice, the greatest wideout ever, was able to corral an MVP trophy during his Hall of Fame career. Quarterbacks and running backs have always dominated the award, prompting the follow-up trivia question:
Has anyone besides a QB or RB ever won the MVP?
The answer to that one is a weak yes. On the defensive side of the ball, Vikings lineman Alan Page won in 1977 and Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor won in 1986. The only other exception also counts as the most shocking — Redskins placekicker Mark Moseley won the award in the strike-shortened 1982 season, the only special teams player ever to do so.
There have been 37 quarterbacks named MVP. There have been 18 running backs selected as Most Valuable. Since LT in ‘86, we have seen 26 straight years of QB and RB domination.
That’s boring. It’s time for a change. A Mega change.
I understand that quarterbacks are important. I understand that running backs can shoulder a heavy workload. But why hasn’t there been any appreciation for the wide receiver? This is the year that could change.
There have been aggressive rules implemented in recent years to protect quarterbacks and wide receivers. The entire league is experiencing a resurgence in the passing game. More emphasis is being placed on the passing attack and most teams have more than one effective running back to help the ground game.
Peyton Manning and Drew Brees are putting up record-breaking numbers and are certainly worthy of MVP praise. But the guys on the receiving end finally have a deserving representative to take the most valuable throne: Calvin Johnson.
You have probably seen Calvin out on the field making huge plays for the Detroit Lions.
And you have probably seen Johnson in TV commercials with Diddy for Nike or on ESPN for SportsCenter.
“Megatron” is not only the best nickname in football, but also the most fitting. The 6-foot-5 specimen has a way of transforming into a futuristic machine on the field, like he was manufactured for the sole purpose of catching passes. Just ask the three Bengals defensive backs he had to outleap for that 50-yard touchdown grab in Week 7.
Last season, Johnson eclipsed Rice’s record for receiving yards in a season, posting 122 catches for a whopping 1,964 yards. Most years that would have garnered some attention for MVP, but it happened to coincide with a career year from Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson. Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, the second-most all-time, and also ran away with the MVP trophy.
As of Week 10, Megatron is having a stellar season, but will have some work to do if he wants to surpass his previous receiving record and top the unprecedented 2,000-yard plateau.
He had to miss one game due to injury this year but still has 53 catches for 904 yards with seven games to go. Although his current pace would leave him short of a new record, don’t underestimate Johnson. He proved capable of mass production when he raked in 1,125 yards in a seven game stretch during the second half of last season.
Megatron has had a career filled with eye-popping stats, but 2013 will be the first time that he fulfills one of the most important criteria for an MVP: winning.
The Detroit Lions are in the driver’s seat for the NFC North crown. Matthew Stafford has always been willing to huck it up to Calvin, but adding dynamic running back Reggie Bush to the fold has balanced out the offensive attack and made the Lions a winner.
Pieces would have to fall into place. Stars would have to align. But the Lions are in the hunt and that means Megatron is at least on the MVP radar.
And Mega change has to start somewhere.