by Julian Spivey
Basically, every week during the second half of the NFL season I’ve seen a post on ESPN’s social media pages asking, “who’s the NFL’s MVP” and for the most part the two players featured have been Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (MVP in 2011 and 2014) and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes (MVP in 2018). Then in the comments section on the posts have been seemingly the entirety of the Buffalo Bills fan-base asking about the Bills quarterback Josh Allen.
All three are very much deserving of being in the MVP conversation.
Mahomes would’ve led the league in passing had he played in a meaningless Week 17 game and was only surpassed by Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson by 83 yards. Allen was fifth in passing yards and Rodgers was seventh.
Rodgers led the league in touchdown passes with 48 (eight more than the second place Russell Wilson and Tom Brady). Mahomes was fourth in the league and Allen fifth. Rodgers was also first in the league in QB Rating at 121.5, almost 10 points higher than Watson in second place. Mahomes was third and Allen was fourth.
You could make the argument that Allen was the all-around best QB of the three leading the three with 421 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns.
But my thought when seeing all this MVP talk (that now has Rodgers as the Vegas favorite) has been, “what about Derrick Henry?”
Henry led the NFL in rushing this season with 2,027 yards becoming just the eighth player in NFL history to top 2,000 yards and his total makes for the fifth highest single-season total in league history. He ran for almost 500 more yards than Minnesota Vikings running back Dalvin Cook in second place. Henry also led the league in touchdown runs with 17, one more than Cook and Alvin Kamara for the New Orleans Saints.
The fact that Henry seemingly isn’t even in the conversation for NFL MVP is dumbfounding to me. The fact that he’s easily the best in the game at his position (this is his second straight season leading the league in rushing) and might very well finish fourth in the MVP voting is asinine to me.
What does it take for a running back to win MVP in the NFL these days?
Does Derrick Henry have to kill Thanos and cure cancer in addition to leading the league in rushing by a mile to even be considered as good as Rodgers or Mahomes or Allen?
The NFL hasn’t seen a running back win MVP since Adrian Peterson ran for more than 2,000 yards for the Minnesota Vikings in 2012. The seven MVPs awarded since that season have all been quarterbacks. In fact, the MVP has gone to a quarterback every season since 2006 other than that Peterson win in 2012. Henry had five more touchdowns runs this season than Peterson had when he won MVP and Henry only had 70 fewer yards rushing.
It kind of makes sense that running backs don’t win the MVP more or feature much in the conversation around the award because the league has become such a passing dominated league over the last two decades … but doesn’t that kind of make Henry’s dominance in the rushing game and the numbers he’s putting up that much more impressive. Shouldn’t that help his MVP case?
When did the MVP voters and us as a society decide that you have to be a quarterback to win the MVP award in the NFL? Doesn’t that make the award a bit less important than it should be?
Rodgers, Mahomes and Allen are all worthy of being MVP this season. If I had a vote it would go to Henry though. Partially because I do believe he’s worthy, but also partially as a means of protest because I think the league and award are clearly biased toward quarterbacks. If Henry isn’t even in the competition this year, how could anyone else who doesn’t play quarterback ever be again?