Russell Wilson MVP snub reveals deep flaws in the process

Russell Wilson didn’t receive a vote for the NFL MVP. It’s for the most VALUABLE player. The process is flawed, and so is the voters’ command of English.

Let’s get one thing absolutely clear. I’m not salty because Russell Wilson didn’t win the MVP award. Lamar Jackson had a fantastic season. I’m very happy for the guy who was told he couldn’t play quarterback in the NFL. I’d say its more than fair to name him the best offensive player in the league – and oddly enough, that honor went to Michael Thomas. He’s deserving as well, of course. But exactly when did the voters for the NFL MVP award forget the definition of the word “valuable”?

That definition has been a problem in virtually every major sport. I often think of the 1987 Major League Baseball MVP award that went to the Chicago Cubs Andre Dawson. The Hawks is one of my favorite players ever, and he had a terrific season that year. He led all of baseball with 49 homers and 137 RBI. He had the second-highest OPS of his career (just google the term, I have to get back to football). It was clearly a magnificent performance.

Here’s where this gets problematic. The Cubs were 76-85 that year and finished sixth in their division. They were a bad team by any definition. So how valuable was Dawson? Let’s say he was worth 20 wins to the Cubs – not that he was, but just for argument’s sake, we’ll go with that. Does it really matter if Chicago lost 85 games or 105? They were bad. They didn’t win. Dawson “boosted” them to a .469 season. It was such a disastrous season that in August, the manager told the club he was going to quit at the end of the year, and they immediately terminated him. The general manager resigned after the season. So how valuable was Dawson to this trainwreck?

Which brings me to the flipside of the definition of “valuable”.  From Merriam-Webster: “having desirable or esteemed characteristics or qualities”.  Also, “of great use or service”. From “having desirable or esteemed characteristics or qualities”. Also, “of considerable use, service, or importance”. So was Dawson the one guy who was the most important player? Was it really important that the Cubs had a great player on a bad team?

Now let’s apply this to Jackson and Wilson. Jackson had amazing stats, it’s true. The Ravens QB had the third-best passer rating in the league and was sixth in yards rushing. That is frankly insane. But you know what else he had? 11 teammates named to the Pro Bowl. That’s a lot of talent on one team. So just how valuable was Jackson’s contribution? If he hadn’t played a single down, the Ravens still had 11 of the best players in the game on the field.

How many Pro Bowlers did Russell Wilson have? Just one, and of course that was Bobby Wagner. You can add Shaquill Griffin if you like, as he was an alternate Pro Bowler. So giving the Seahawks that bonus, Wilson still had just two Pro Bowlers on his side. So who had to do more to earn wins for his team, the guy with 11 Pro Bowl teammates, or the guy with two? There’s a reason Wilson made a public plea for more stars to join the Seahawks.

I am not arguing that Russell Wilson should have won the MVP. As we know all too well, he tailed off significantly in the last quarter of the year. I’d say Jackson was the best player, but that brings up the other issue I have with the NFL’s voting process. It’s a singles vote, all or nothing. If the NFL went to the format used in MLB, the NBA, the Heisman – you get the point, right? Virtually every organization uses some variation of this: your top choice gets 10 points, your second gets seven, the third choice gets five points, etc.

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If the NFL was sane, they’d adopt that system. Jackson would still have been the unanimous choice, but at least then we’d see what the voters thought of Wilson’s season. 31 touchdowns, five picks, and five final game-winning drives? That has to be worth some recognition. All props to Mr. Jackson, but DangeRuss deserves his as well.

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