Aaron Rodgers has had an MVP season. No one would argue that. And we’d all agree that JJ Watt is the other guy in the discussion. It seems to me that’s exactly how the voters and typical sports fan are viewing the race… Rodgers as the MVP, Watt as the other guy. If I were to start a team today, I’d start with Rodgers. But when I look back on this season, I’ll remember the stats, the plays, the memories, and the hype that came from JJ Watt. Watt’s my MVP.
Rodgers is fantastic. He’s a leader, he’s a perfectionist, he takes his players from good to great and he’s tough. His hobbling touchdown pass against the Detroit Lions may have solidified his MVP award. He plays the game right and as I said, there’s no other player I’d rather have on my team.
But JJ Watt has had a special season. He’s the first defensive player to record 20+ sacks in a season. He also had an interception, a safety, and two defensive touchdowns. On one of those he went 80 yards! Pretty fantastic for a defensive player. But that isn’t all – he had four (4!) offensive touchdowns! What?!! Six touchdowns for a defensive player is just unreal. You name it, he does it. You game plan against him, he fights through (and wins). My favorite highlight, by far, is at the end of this 5-minute video. The whole thing is fantastic, but if you’re really strapped for time, fast forward to 4:02 and watch to the end.
Stats are important. But they limit the discussion because we have so many stats and sometimes you just can’t compare. Generations, positions, even different teams mean we’re not comparing apples to apples. Rodgers has the stats. Watt has the stats. This year I cast my vote for MVP based on the following: (a) JJ Watt’s season was more memorable and exciting, and (b) what more can a defensive player do? I’m writing this on Saturday afternoon after weeks and weeks of thought. I found a few stats, a few videos, but I’m up against the clock because family is calling and I think they may announce MVP tonight. The post doesn’t read the same after the fact. I know I’m in the minority, that’s ok. I struggle with MVP talk because stats get us in trouble and make things more difficult. Of course it sounds totally lame to discuss a player’s MVP status because “it’s more memorable” like I stated above. But lately I’ve been a little more subjective when it comes to sports, a little more care free. When the Packers gave away the NFC championship game to the Seahawks two weeks ago, I cringed at the hatred fans and friends had towards the Packers and even the Seahawks. The hatred is taking away from my love of the game. I know it’s a big money thing now. I want to win a Super Bowl as much as the next guy. But I love sports. I love winning. I have to appreciate losing because it’s part of the deal.
Sports, we are told as kids, is not about winning or losing, it’s how you play the game. I believe that. But I also believe the words of Vince Lombardi: If winning doesn’t matter, why do they keep score? Can we cling to both statements? I believe we can. And in this season of my life, I won’t get bent out of shape if my team gives away a trip to the Super Bowl. I won’t give my MVP nod to a quarterback just because quarterbacks always win the awards or even because Rodgers has stats that certainly qualify him for MVP. I’m casting my MVP vote for the guy who will be the unanimous defensive player of the year, the guy who scored multiple times on both sides of the ball, the guy who goes sack-fumble-sideline-recieving TD, the guy who does things no defensive player has ever done, and the number one guy I’d pay to see play on Sundays.
Sure, I pay more attention because we went to the same high school. Sure, he and I are both Badgers. Sure, Rodgers deserves to win. But what player’s performance will remember, and what else does a defensive player have to do?
2014 NFL MVP: JJ Watt