Earlier today, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry was named the first unanimous MVP in NBA history as he won the award for the second straight season (collecting all 131 first place votes while doing so). He is also the eleventh player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards.
As for Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, he earned his ninth top-three finish in his career in MVP voting, the second-most in NBA history behind Michael Jordan's ten.
With all of the talk about the NBA MVP voting going on and with some significant historical perspective added, it got me thinking about the NFL MVP award and how much recently-retired quarterback Peyton Manning dominated in his career.
Let's consider his MVP legacy for a moment.
- Manning holds the NFL record for most MVP awards in a career with five, two more than anyone else (Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, and Brett Favre all won three each).
- Manning actually was never a unanimous selection for MVP - the only player to earn that honor was Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in 2010 - but Manning had a couple of instances where he came pretty close. In fact, there have been four seasons in which a player has received all but one vote or better, and they all belong to either Manning or Brady. Brady of course received every vote in 2010 and received all but one in 2007, while Manning received all but one in both 2004 and 2013 (because some idiot wanted to make it about himself in the MVP voting rather than the right recipient). In three of those four seasons, the all-time touchdown pass record was broken (in other words, if you want to be a near-unanimous MVP, just break the touchdown record).
- Manning finished in the top three in MVP voting in nine different seasons. During a 15-year stretch (1999-2013), he finished in the top three in voting nine times. That is made even more remarkable when you factor in one year missed due to injury (2011) and two years in which Tom Brady either received every vote or all but one (meaning that there was another future Hall of Fame quarterback going against Manning during the period). While I don't have the numbers of where Manning's top three finishes rank all-time, I'd have to imagine it's near the top. Take, for example, Tom Brady, who has six career top three finishes - he'd need to finish in the top three of the MVP voting in his age 39, 40, and 41 seasons just to tie Manning's mark. So while I'm not sure where Manning ranks historically, it's clear how impressive that number is.
- Manning was a back-to-back winner of the MVP award twice during his career (2003-2004, 2008-2009), the only player in NFL history to do so. In fact, only five times has a player ever won an MVP award back-to-back: Jim Brown in 1957-58, Joe Montana in 1989-90, Brett Favre in 1995-97 (the only time someone has won three consecutive), and then Peyton Manning in 2003-04 and in 2008-09.
We all know that Peyton Manning had a remarkable career in which he established himself among the very best in NFL history and became an NFL legend, not just a Colts legend. We all know that Manning will go down as the best to ever play in Indianapolis and will make the Hall of Fame. But it seems like Manning's five MVP awards are often just mentioned and then moved on from, perhaps because that number has become so commonly known. Regardless, Manning's dominance of the MVP award for over a decade is absolutely incredible, and it's something worth noting as we hear about the NBA MVP award being given out.