Quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes are splitting the NFL’s MVP conservation at midseason.
Russell Wilson started out as the frontrunner. Patrick Mahomes is coming into view. The conversation for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player award for the 2020 season is rounding into shape at the midway point and two favorites have already emerged, both quarterbacks for Super Bowl contenders hoping to add to their legacy.
The race actually resembles the 2018 MVP race in which Mahomes was in the running for his first such award alongside veteran Drew Brees. In that instance, the age disparity was far greater, but the conversation was largely framed by the up-and-coming Mahomes who was dazzling viewers each week with his performances and the surprising consistency of a future Hall of Famer in Brees who had never won the award. Mahomes, of course, would end up winning his first MVP with a 50 touchdown season.
Fast forward to the present and you find a similar conversation. A recent survey posted at the league’s official site shows Wilson with a slight edge among a panel of voters for MVP, yet the conversation around Wilson seems to reference his full body of work—namely that a quarterback as great as Wilson still hasn’t earned an MVP award. Check out what Steve Mariucci had to say:
"In Year 9, Wilson’s finally getting the credit he deserves. He’s never received a single MVP vote, but that drought will end in a few months, given the sparkling campaign he’s putting together."
We’ve heard this song and dance before.
Voters are not wrong here, per se. Wilson is having a great season for the Seattle Seahawks. He’s also a future Hall of Famer who has an incredible body of work and, at some point, you’d assume he’s deserved an MVP or more. Yet if it hasn’t happened yet, the pressure to suddenly give one to him “before it’s presumably too late” is such a lame excuse to crown a player with anything.
It just so happens that some all-time greats were never the actual greatest in any particular season. That’s true in every sport of several important figures, and it’s lame that the media or fans will let these things hang overhead. Dan Marino was clearly one of the most talented quarterbacks ever, and the lack of a Super Bowl doesn’t take anything away from it. The idea that Andy Reid wasn’t a Hall of Fame coach before winning “the big one” was ludicrous. His coaching tree and career wins would have placed him in Canton anyway.
That fact that neither Brees or Wilson has an MVP award—yet—should not take anything away from their respective legacies.
On the flip side, the idea of gifting one to them to put them over the top or to hedge the actual race and give someone else the edge because of the obvious space remaining in their personal trophy cases is also equally as silly. The NFL’s Most Valuable Player award in 2020 should go to the one player who has most clearly demonstrated that he was the most valuable to his team for that actual season—nothing more and nothing less.
If the MVP goes to Wilson this year, he could absolutely deserve it considering he’s putting up stellar numbers on the year so far. He leads the NFL in touchdown passes with 28. He’s completing 71 percent of his throws, averaging 317 yards/game, and owns a passer rating of 117.1 for a 6-2 Seahawks team angling for the top seed in the NFC. He’s also added 265 rushing yards and another rushing score.
Right now, Wilson has the edge over Mahomes on the field so there’s good reason for him to be leading the conversation at this point. We’ve also seen Mahomes come on strong over the last couple weeks. Wilson also has 11 turnovers on the year to only 2 for Mahomes (1 interception, 1 fumble).
With Mahomes on the bye this week for the Chiefs, Wilson has one more game to put up numbers before we can compare them side by side for the rest of the year. It will be interesting to watch, for sure, although both fan bases are more concerned with a Super Bowl run (as are the players involved). But let’s hope the conversation stays centered around on-field performance and production rather than trying to fill in the blanks for some player’s legacy.