Category Archives: 2012 candidates

Vikings running back Adrian Peterson wins 2012 NFL MVP after historic year

Adrian Peterson broke the 2,000-yard rushing mark and became the first non-quarterback to win the MVP since LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006.

[Editor’s note: Adrian Peterson received 30.5 votes to win the 2012 NFL MVP. Peyton Manning received the other 19.5 votes.]

The 2012 NFL MVP is revealed tonight at an award ceremony, and after compiling public statements by the 50 Associated Press voters, I’m comfortable calling the race. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson will beat Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning to take home his first MVP award.

With half of the votes recorded, Peterson (18.5 votes) holds a strong advantage over Manning (6.5 votes), who will fall short of his fifth MVP. Peterson only needs seven of the remaining 25 votes to clinch the award.

Peterson became the seventh player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards, falling nine yards short of breaking Eric Dickerson’s NFL record one season after a significant knee injury. Peterson carried the 10-6 Vikings to the playoffs, finishing with 2,097 yards on 348 attempts (6.0 avg.) for 12 touchdowns along with 40 receptions for 217 yards and one touchdown.

Manning threw for 4,659 yards with 37 touchdowns, 11 interceptions and a league-best 68.6 percent completion percentage for the second-highest QB rating (105.8) in his career. After not playing in 2011 because of a neck injury, Manning led the Broncos to a 13-3 record in his first season with the team.

There’s an outside chance another player — like Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson or Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — could receive a rogue vote.

Adrian Peterson (30.5 votes)

Clark Judge — “Without him, the Vikings don’t just make the playoffs; they don’t make it to .500.”

Peter King — “The Vikings without Peterson would have been toast by Thanksgiving, Halloween maybe.”

Don Banks — “The season Peterson just turned in was singular, special and as valuable as they come.”

Charean Williams — “The Vikings went 5-2 in their last seven games to earn a playoff berth. In that seven-game stretch, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder passed for 1,129 yards with eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Peterson ran for 1,140 yards with seven total touchdowns.”

Ashley Fox — “It might be the single greatest season-long individual performance in NFL history. On a reconstructed knee with every defense knowing he is going to carry the ball because quarterback Christian Ponder is not much of a threat and Percy Harvin has been out since midseason, Peterson has put up monster numbers.”

Paul Domowitch — “He’s managed to run away with the league rushing title and challenge Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record and keep the Vikings in the playoff hunt not only with a surgically repaired left knee, but a one-dimensional offense that has Christian Ponder at quarterback.”

Mark Gaughan — “Peterson finished with the second most rushing yards and the eighth most scrimmage yards in NFL history. That was despite rehabilitating from major knee surgery all offseason. And despite the fact Minnesota’s passing game was 31st in the NFL. And despite the fact his offensive line is decent but far from great.”

Ira Kaufman — “With opposing defenses loading the box and daring mediocre QB Christian Ponder to make them pay, Peterson came within nine yards of toppling Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson as the league’s single-season rushing champion. By the time Peterson stopped dodging tacklers, Minnesota had secured 10 wins and the NFC’s final playoff slot.”

Tom Curran – “You have to have an incredible season to unseat a quarterback … I think Adrian Peterson has had a historic one, and he needs to be recognized for that.”

Alex Marvez — “If the Vikings reach the playoffs, Peterson will likely get my vote.”

Rich Gannon — “I looked at the fact the Vikings aren’t very good in the passing game and they didn’t have Percy Harvin (down the stretch). I looked at how he was able to shoulder the load and carry that football team. I don’t think many people thought they’d make the playoffs.”

Adam Schein — “Adam and Rich actually have MVP votes, unlike the rest of our esteemed panel, and they are going with Adrian “All Day” Peterson.”

Paul Gutierrez — “What separated Peterson, though, was just how valuable he was to the Vikings. He WAS the Vikings. Consider, Minnesota had the 31st-ranked passing attack in the NFL under Christian Ponder, so opponents absolutely knew the Vikings were going to run the ball and could flood the box.”

Cris Collinsworth

Peyton Manning (19.5 votes)

Pete Prisco — “Coming back from an injury that could have ended his career to do what he did is amazing.”

Hub Arkush — “He has taken the Broncos from afterthought to legitimate Super Bowl contender, and as great as Peterson has been — in fact, he has had the better individual season — the Vikings just aren’t a Super Bowl threat.”

Boomer Esiason — “Peyton Manning, there’s no question in my eyes.”

John Lynch — “I felt the day Peyton walked in the building the secretaries were better because Peyton Manning was there.”

Pat Kirwan



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AD + 2,000 = MVP?

Six players in NFL history have finished with more than 2,000 rushing yards in a season. With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson knocking on the door only 12 months after tearing his ACL and MCL, discussion is starting about whether he’s capable of winning the NFL MVP award.

The Vikings recently launched a campaign for Peterson’s candidacy, similar to what you might see from colleges and the Heisman Trophy. Running backs haven’t received much love in the hashtag era, however, so #MVPeterson faces an uphill battle.

Voters are wowed by the massively inflated passing numbers in the NFL, and only quarterbacks have received votes the last three seasons.  Tom Brady, Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers are most likely to win even though Peterson, Calvin Johnson and a quartet of defenders (J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Aldon Smith and Geno Atkins) have legitimate arguments.

But MVP voters disagree whether Peterson is worthy of the honor.

Pete Prisco thinks Peterson has no chance.

Adrian Peterson: Amazing. He has 212 yards against the Rams and is closing in on the single-season rushing record. Even so, no MVP talk. That has to be Peyton Manning orTom Brady or Aaron Rodgers. It has to be.

Tony Dungy can envision a scenario where Peterson wins.

But the question is, can he lead the Vikings into the playoffs? Two tough games — at Houston, and home against Green Bay. If Adrian Peterson does lead them into the playoffs and breaks the record, I think he has to be the MVP of the league.

That debate won’t be settled for a few weeks, but let’s get some historical perspective by looking at the MVP fates of the running backs who broke the 2,000-yard barrier. (I added Earl Campbell because he’s the only other player to rush for 1,900 yards and did so in 15 games.)

Eric Dickerson, 1984
2,105 rushing yards, 14 TD, 5.6 avg; 139 receiving yards, 0 TD, 6.6 avg
Rams finished 10-6, earned wild-card spot
Second place (18 votes) to Dan Marino (52)

Jamal Lewis, 2003
2,066 rushing yards, 14 TD, 5.3 avg.; 205 receiving yards, 0 TD, 7.9 avg.
Ravens finished 10-6, won division
Fourth place (5 votes) to Peyton Manning/Steve McNair (16 each)

Barry Sanders, 1997
2,053 rushing yards, 11 TD, 6.1 avg.; 305 receiving yards, 3 TD, 9.2 avg.
Lions finished 9-7, earned wild-card spot
T-First place (18 votes) with Brett Favre

Terrell Davis, 1998
2,008 rushing yards, 21 TD, 5.1 avg.; 217 receiving yards, 2 TD, 8.7 avg.
Broncos finished 14-2, won division
First place (25 votes)

Chris Johnson, 2009
2,006 rushing yards, 14 TD, 5.6 avg.; 503 receiving yards, 2 TD, 10.1 avg.
Titans finished 8-8, missed playoffs
T-Seventh place (1 vote) to Peyton Manning (32)

O.J. Simpson, 1973
2,003 rushing yards, 12 TD, 6.0 avg.; 70 receiving yards, 0 TD, 11.7 avg.
Bills finished 9-5, missed playoffs
First place (74 out of 78 votes)

Earl Campbell, 1980
1,934 rushing yards, 13 TD, 5.2 avg.; 47 receiving yards, 0 TD, 4.3 avg.
Oilers finished 11-5, won division
Second place (22 votes) to Brian Sipe (47)

So what have we learned other than that running backs weren’t expected to catch the ball in the 1970s and 1980s? Here’s some quick trivia:

  • Three players were named MVP and two were runner-up. Every player received at least one vote, a trend I expect to continue because it’s an open race this season. Chris Johnson barely kept that streak alive in 2009 when the Titans finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. 
  • O.J. Simpson dominated in a 14-game season and was rewarded with the MVP even though the 9-5 Bills missed the playoffs. He’s one of only two players to accomplish that feat, joining Johnny Unitas and the 11-1-2 Baltimore Colts in 1964. It’s worth noting Buffalo would have qualified for the postseason under the NFL’s current rules.
  • Eric Dickerson had the unfortunate timing to break Simpson’s NFL record the same season that Dan Marino obliterated the league’s passing marks. Dickerson finished second in MVP voting three times without winning.
  • Barry Sanders wouldn’t have had to share his MVP with Brett Favre under current voting rules. Sanders rushed for 184 yards in the regular-season finale to help the Lions sneak into the playoffs at 9-7. But voting then happened before Week 17, an unfortunate quirk that was quickly fixed.

For what it’s worth, Peterson agrees with me that the deck is stacked against him.

The MVP, man, that’s something that I’ve always wanted to grab. I work hard. I want to be the best player to play this game, so with that, MVP awards come. But I know this league and how it is, man. They’re kind of biased to the quarterback, which is unfortunate. They make it hard for other players to win it, but I will.

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December 18, 2012 · 3:50 pm

Pro Football Weekly picks favorites


Saints quarterback Drew Brees has never won the NFL MVP. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady captured the 2010 and 2007 awards, and Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers won in 2011.

Pro Football Weekly didn’t veer off the beaten path when discussing NFL MVP candidates for the 2012 season in a short video. The three quarterbacks that throw for lots of yards and touchdowns got all the publicity. Here’s a peek at what was said about each candidate:

Aaron Rodgers: (4 votes) “It’s his award to lose.”

Drew Brees: (2 votes) “He’s the guy to calm the tide.”

Tom Brady: (1 vote) “He has better weapons at his disposal.”

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