NEW ORLEANS â€“ Until Sunday, I had all but conceded the 2011 NFL MVP award to Green Bay Packers' quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Now, in light of Sunday's developments, I have changed my mind.
Not only does New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees belong prominently in the MVP conversation, he deserves the award as well ... no ifs, ands or buts.
How does one differentiate between the two? I suggest you can't, not in an objective manner, anyway.
Each has played brilliantly and put his team in position to contend for the NFC championship on Jan. 22 and a berth in Super Bowl XLVI on Feb. 5 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Therefore, I propose that Brees and Rodgers share the 2011 MVP award as selected by The Associated Press, though that result seems highly unlikely when the 50 voters ultimately cast their votes by the Jan. 2nd deadline.
There is precedence for a tie, however. Two players shared the MVP award in 1997 (Green Bay QB Brett Favre and Detroit RB Barry Sanders) and again in 2003 (Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning and Tennessee QB Steve McNair).
I had a vote both years for The AP while working for The Times-Picayune and selected Favre and Manning in 1997 and 2003, respectively.
If ever two players deserved to share the award, three if you count New England quarterback Tom Brady, this is the year. But my focus today falls on Brees and Rodgers.
Consider, through 14 games:
--Â Brees has completed 417 of 583 passes (71.5 percent completion rate) for 4,780 yards with 37 touchdowns and 11 INTs for a 109.1 passer rating.
The Saints (11-3 with a six-game win streak) currently hold the No. 2 seed in the NFC and are on the verge of winning the NFC South.
--Â Rodgers has completed 322 of 473 passes (68.1 percent completion rate) for 4,360 yards with 40 TDs and 6 INTs for a league-best 120.1 passer rating.
Until Sunday's 19-14 loss at Kansas City, the Packers (13-1) had won 19 consecutive games dating to last season, including the first 13 games this season. They have won the NFC North and currently own homefield advantage throughout the playoffs.
With regard to the MVP award,Â the Packers' lossÂ changes the wholeÂ dynamicÂ and sways my mythical vote in Brees' direction.
Brees continued his MVP-caliberÂ play in Sunday's 42-20 win against the hapless Minnesota VikingsÂ (2-12), completing 32 of 40 passes for 412 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a gaudy 149.2 passer rating. He now has thrown for 4,780 yards, 305 yards shy of eclipsing Dan Marino's NFL record for most passing yards in one season of 5,084 set in 1984.
Brees came within a whisker of surpassing Marino in 2008, failing to hook up with wide receiver Lance Moore in the closing seconds of Game 16 and finishing with 5,069 yards passing.
Thus, the night after Christmas is shaping up to be a very special evening in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
First and foremost, a victory Monday night on national television against the Atlanta Falcons (9-5) would give the Saints their third NFCÂ South championship in six seasons under Coach Sean Payton.
Additionally, with a little luck and a good night of pass protection, Brees should move past Marino in the NFL record books, and, in the process, take one giant step toward his first league MVP award.
Two games remain in the regular season, and I sincerely hope the AP balloters keep an open mind in the selection process and make their choice based on an entire body of work.
This season, Brees and Rodgers have played like a league MVP in every sense of the award. Each is deserving of the honor. Anything less would be a damn shame.
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