Editor’s Note: Tim Tebow is the man of the hour. Literally. This weekend, NFL Network is dedicating 60 minutes to him. Join us to experience his journey from training camp afterthought to playoff hero, including every comeback win and Tebow wired for sound. Find out why no quarterback was better when the clock was about to run out. 2011 was Tebow Time.
Scientists have the Nobel Prize, musicians are awarded a Grammy, and thespians aim for a People’s Choice award. But in the NFL, the greatest individual award a player can get is the Most Valuable Player Trophy. Most years it’s pretty clear who the MVP should be, but in 2011 several players can stake a claim. The usual qualifiers, individual statistics, were through the roof this year. Rob Gronkowski set tight end receiving records in both yards and touchdowns, and Jared Allen came just one Brett Favre dive away from the single season sack record. But in this year of the quarterback, the general consensus is the race comes down to two people, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Well as far as I’m concerned that’s incorrect, because there’s only one person who should be given the award: Timothy Richard Tebow.
What makes someone an MVP? Well Webster’s Dictionary defines value as an assigned or calculated numerical quantity. The beauty about football is how easy it is to quantify players. In 2011, the passing leader was Saints quarterback Drew Brees. He threw for 5,476 yards (breaking Dan Marino’s 27 year old yardage record) with 46 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with a 71.2 completion percentage, all perfectly good statistics to support his MVP candidacy. And it doesn’t hurt that he threw for a full 833 yards more than Aaron Rodgers. But some have made the argument that those numbers are skewed, considering Brees had 155 more attempts that Rodgers, and if the attempts had been equaled (factoring in completion percentages) Rodgers would have thrown for at least 6,030 yards with 56 touchdowns and only 8 interceptions. Well if Tebow had as many passing attempts as Brees, he would have thrown for over 4,000 yards. The fact is that like piranhas, statistics are a very tricky species.
But numbers are just one side of the argument, and total value is a little more complicated to measure. Some people have made the argument that the real MVP this season is Peyton Manning, evidenced by how the Colts fared in his absence. Well, the same can be said for Tebow. With Tebow starting for the Broncos, the team was 7 and 4, without him 1 and 4. On the other hand, the Packers may have won 14 straight games with Aaron Rodgers, but they also have more losses with him as the starter than without him. But it’s what happened within those games that is what matters. In Tebow’s 7 wins, he has 6 game winning drives; Drew Brees has only 4. So when it mattered the most, Tebow rose to the occasion. To borrow from the old saying, “Most valuable players make most valuable plays in most valuable situations.”
But beyond just his value to the Denver Broncos, without a doubt, Tim Tebow is the most valuable player to the NFL. Actually, he may be the most valuable player to sports in general. Early this week, ESPN ran a poll that resulted in Tim Tebow being named the most popular athlete in America. I think it would be hard for anyone to argue against that. His popularity is palpable. Last Sunday’s Denver/Pittsburgh Wild Card game averaged 42 million viewers, making it the most watched TV show since the Super Bowl. Compare that to the biggest game of Drew Brees’ and Aaron Rodgers’ season — Week 1 in which they played each other. That matchup averaged 27 million viewers. Respectable, but a fraction of Tebow’s Wild Card win over Pittsburgh. The people have spoken, and as far as I’m concerned, a 42 million member chorus can’t be wrong.
Plain and simple, you can’t spell “Most Valuable Player Award” without TEBOW. But if my argument isn’t enough to sway your opinion, tune in to “Tebow Time: 2011 In Review” tonight at 8pm/ET on the NFL Network. Then, forge your own opinion. But I have a feeling you’ll agree with me that Tim Tebow should be awarded this season’s greatest individual honor. Then again, having watched Tebow this year, I’m guessing he’d rather have the season’s greatest team honor: a Super Bowl ring. We can all agree that award defiantly has the most value.