At least one NFL MVP voter wouldn’t select Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at midseason. And media bias probably isn’t the reason Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Mark Craig — the Vikings have played the Packers and Lions this season — makes the case for wide receiver Calvin Johnson.
Only one receiver has ever won the award: Jerry Rice in 1987. Rice averaged 90.6 yards, 5.4 catches and 1.8 touchdowns per game that year. Johnson is averaging 100.5 yards, 5.9 catches and 1.4 touchdowns per game through the Lions’ 6-2 start.
So why not Megatron?
He’s often double- and triple-teamed because the Lions have no running game and no other wide receiver threat. Yet the 6-5, 240-pounder with the 4.3 speed remains the league’s most difficult player to defend anywhere on the field. Of his 47 catches, 40 have gone for a first down (85.1 percent) while 17 have gone for gains of 20 yards or longer (36.1 percent), including five of 40 yards or longer.
It’s worth noting Jerry Rice never earned the Associated Press’ MVP award — the focus of this blog — but was named the 1987 MVP by the Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association and The Sporting News. The Associated Press gave the award to John Elway, who edged Rice 36 to 30 in voting (Joe Montana received the other 18 votes).