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2008 NFL MVP Race: King off the Warner bandwagon

Last week, we took some shots at our favorite punching bang from SI (Peter King) for his laughable notes on the 2008 MVP race. This week, it seems Peter King has had a bit of a revelation. Maybe he read something here and it sparked a thought in that coffee-stimulated brain of his. Or, maybe someone just dropped a rock on his head just to shake out the cobwebs. Whatever happened, Peter King is finally starting to make some sense:

I think Kurt Warner is rapidly playing himself out of all those nice things -- like a third MVP, like a winning January -- he'd played himself into through the first 10 games of the year. At some point, an MVP has to win a game he shouldn't win. Warner hasn't had one of those yet this year, and though he's played very well overall in engineering the Cards' 7-5 record, he's been downright bad in big games on the road, including throwing interceptions to end the first two drives at Philadelphia Thursday night.

Welcome to the world of the living, Peter! We've been saying for weeks how the Warner for MVP bandwagon was a silly mockery of what the MVP is all about. MVPs come up big in big games against tough teams, especially on the road. Last year's MVP, Tom Brady, won a tough games on the road in Indy and NY. Warner, meanwhile, has nearly made the turnover look like an art form when he plays quality opponents on the road. Again, Warner's resurrgence is a great story, and Arizona fans have every right to root for him. But after Thursday's meltdown, Warner is now officially gone from the MVP radar. Like Washington's Clinton Portis (who was the mid-season favorite before his team started to suck), Warner just hasn't done enough to prove he is the best player in the NFL.

The same is true for Saints QB Drew Brees. Brees was another reason why the Warner for MVP talk was silly. Brees is clearly a better QB than Warner. Yet, with their loss to the Bucs yesterday, Bress knocked himself out of the MVP discussion. His team, likely, will not make the playoffs and no legit MVP-candidate sits home in January. This doesn't take anything away from Brees and what he has accomplished in New Orleans. Without a defense and the continued suckiness of non-running back Reggie Bush, Brees has managed to will New Orleans to respectability seemingly by himself. Brees is a helluva player; a top 5 QB now. He doesn't need an MVP to prove that.

So, with Warner, Brees, and Portis now out of the picture, the MVP race is pretty much a one man race now. Boring, I know. But it is accurate. Hell, it is so obvious, even Peter King gets it now:

MVP Race

1. Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis. OK. You give me an MVP after the debacle weekend of so many candidates. Manning ascends to the top by default, despite engineering zero touchdown drives for only the fifth time in a 10-year NFL career. This is a seasonal award, obviously, because of the Colts being 8-4 and Manning being most responsible.

As we have said for some time, Peyton Manning is the 2008 MVP. No debate. No argument. If you disagree you are wrong and you can go sit in the corner, facing the wall. When known blockheads like Bill Simmons and Peter King finally get it, you know it is so obvious it might as well have flames and sparklers shooting from it.

Now, in typical WTF! fashion, Peter King lists Falcons rookie QB Matt Ryan as the #2 MVP candidate. Look, Matt Ryan is a very good rookie QB, but if he is a legit MVP candidate, I'm no longer watching NFL football and dedicating my blogging Sundays to the PBA Tour. Why not throw Joe Flacco in there as well, Peter! His team is 8-4 and, like Ryan's Falcons, Flacco's Ravens are currently in the playoff picture as the #6 seed. Personally, I feel Jets QB Brett Favre is the #2 MVP candidate. Yes, his team lost to the Broncos at home yesterday. Yes, he played poorly. So what. People have bad games, and the Jets had just finished beating the Pats and Titans in previous weeks. Favre will likely bounce back next week.

The other real, legit MVP candidates are Titans QB Kerry Collins and Giants QB Eli Manning. My arguments for these candidates are simple: Without Collins, Vince Young continues to stink it up in Nashville and the Titans are .500 right now, not 11-1; Without Eli Manning, the Giants have David Carr throwing the football ('nuff said). The fact that niether of these men are on King's MVP radar suggests Peter's two feet are not quite firmly planted in the realm of the totally conscious, but for now we are just happy that he has seen the light regarding Peyton Manning. Baby steps for everything else. Baby steps.

So, why all this MVP talk?

Well, for one, it is cool to talk and write about MVP races. They are fun. Yes, admit it. They are. Remember, football is supposed to be fun, and if you do not see the fun in talking about MVP races, get a pulse. Do they mean anything in terms of who wins it all? No, of course not. Last year's MVP choked big time in the Super Bowl, and was outplayed by a guy who was booed in his home stadium just one month prior. In terms of the ultimate prize, the Super Bowl is way cooler than any regular season MVP award. However, this year the MVP award has an extra layer of drama added to the fun. It was starting to look as if writers were going to give Kurt Warner, a man who will never sniff the NFL Hall of Fame, his third NFL MVP. Only one other player has won three MVPs: Brett Favre. Favre will obviously be a first ballot HoFer, and if he wins his fourth MVP, he will further cement his legacy as one of the greatest ever to play.

Better than Elway. Better than Montana. Better than Starr. Better than Graham. Maybe better than Unitas.

So, knowing the stakes, giving the MVP to Warner would be kind of a slap in the face to previous award winners. How can a guy who will never get a HoF vote (nor should he) win three friggin' league MVPs? Fortunately, Warner has been re-exposed as the turnover monster he always was, and the person who will likely join Favre as the only other three-time NFL MVP is Peyton Manning. This is the way it should be. Yes, it is boring. We know Peyton is great. Why give him yet another award?

Answer: Because the great ones should always win the awards until someone better comes along. Deviation from that cheapens the award, and Peyton Manning is clearly the best player in this league right now. Once again, Peter King shows us he has a little life after all:

Let me tell you a story. My Sirius NFL Radio partner, Randy Cross, was on a Frontier Airlines flight from Denver to Atlanta eight nights ago after doing Oakland-Denver for CBS. Frontier has satellite TV at every seat and Cross and his seat neighbor were watching the waning moments of the Indy-San Diego Sunday-nighter. The Chargers kicked a field goal to tie the game at 20 with a minute and a half left. The ensuing conversation:

Seat neighbor: "Overtime.''

Cross, pointing to the time remaining: "The Chargers are toast.''

Seat neighbor: "Why?''

Cross, pointing to Peyton Manning on the screen: "Because of him.''

Eighty-seven seconds later , after another game-winning drive by the master of them, the Colts were walking off the field with a 23-20 win.

Thanks for the story, Peter. Now, do us a favor and hide those power rankings. You do not help your cause by ranking the Steelers and the Cowboys ahead of the Colts. The Colts beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh, and the Cowboys... well, they just suck in general. Beating up on the Lions doesn't magically make them a legit contender again. But whatever. Peter has seen the light regarding Peyton Manning for MVP.

Baby steps with everything else.