The 2009 NFL MVP will be announced this Sunday, and the outcome is obvious: Peyton Manning will win the award.
Back on December 24th, 2009, the Indianapolis Star polled the voters who will decide the Associated Press Most Valuable Player and Manning received 23 first place votes from the 50 member panel. If these numbers are correct, Manning will run away with the award.
Despite what happened in Week Sixteen against the Jets, I don't feel the media will "punish" Manning the way they will crucify Jim Caldwell and Bill Polian. Caldwell was a lock for several coaching awards, including the USA Today award (which he came in third place for). That award provides something of a preview for the AP Coach of the Year award, which Caldwell is also now unlikely to win. Again, prior to the Jets game, Caldwell was a lock. His team was undefeated. They had just broken the consecutive regular season game win streak held by Bill Belichick and the Patriots, winning 23 straight games dating back to last year. He'd coached this group to the #1 seed in the AFC, a seventh AFC South title in eight years, and set an NFL record as a rookie coach winning his first 14 games.
But, when you quit and pull starters in a game everyone thinks is important, awards voters tend to factor that into the equation.
The same goes for Bill Polian. He was surely a lock to win (I believe) his fifth NFL Executive of the Year award this year. That's not happening now. The decision to rest starters, and then the bitter tongue thrashing Polian gave to media and fans afterward for daring to disagree with him on the decision gives Polian about as much chance to win the top executive award as Al Davis of the Raiders does.
But, for Manning, the media are not going to blame or punish him for the decision, for obvious reasons. He clearly is the best quarterback in football playing on the best team in the regular season for 2009. He lead seven fourth quarter comebacks in 2009, was voted as a starter in the Pro Bowl (for what that's worth), and likely would have lead the league in TDs, completion %, and passing yards had the Colts not shut him down the final two weeks of the season.
So, while big media will likely punish Caldwell and Polian for the decision to sit starters against the Jets, they won't do the same with Manning. And for those who are misguided enough to confuse "Most Valuable Player" with anything other than "Best Player in the NFL," look no further than this quote from Rex Ryan:
"He's still the same guy that destroys everybody," said Ryan, who faced Manning on several occasions as the Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator. "I always tell people, 'I hate going against him. I don't like him when I play him.' But I know one thing: I respect him more than any player in the National Football League. He's the best. He's going to go down as maybe the best quarterback of all time.
"Shoot, if (the Colts) want to get rid of him, we'll go ahead and take him."
While I'm sure current Jets QB Mark Sanchez loves Ryan's ringing endorsement of his skills (Sanchez was a top five pick in the 2009 draft after all), the quote from Ryan simply sums up what everyone knows, save a few idiot fans and sports writers who know nothing about football:
Peyton Manning is the best player in football, and THAT is why he will win his NFL record fourth MVP award this year.