Monday, December 31, 2007
Updated: January 3, 11:01 AM ET
Why Randy Moss won't win the MVP award
By Scoop Jackson
Randy Moss is the primary reason the Patriots went through the regular season untouched and have become perhaps the best team to ever bless a football field (a Super Bowl win will determine that).
But when the NFL award tour begins, Moss' name will not be mentioned as the most valuable player of arguably the most valuable team in history. His teammate, Tom Brady, will win that award and at least one other player, probably Brett Favre, will get more votes of recognition than Moss. And as much as he deserves to be handed the trophy, the only person to blame for Randy Moss not being named the MVP is ... Randy Moss.
Moss won't win the MVP award because of his past. It hasn't caught up with him in this respect, but it's too deep for too many people to forgive so soon. If anything has been learned from Barry Bonds, it's you can't be an ass and expect the media to think you are a king, even when you play like one.
Moss won't win the MVP award because as well as he's played -- and in some minds (including this one) he outplayed Brady this year -- MVPs are like NCAA teams trying to win the BCS: If you begin the season too far off the elite list or not ranked in the top 25, it's impossible (even if you go undefeated, like Hawaii this year or Boise State last year) to play for the national championship. In Moss' case, while there is no preseason "ranking" on this topic, he began the season too far off of everyone's list to be the MVP in the end. Brady, LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning, even Tony Romo were top candidates at the start of the season. In order to "jump over" them in the minds of voters, Moss would have to had outplay them the same way the Patriots did the Steelers in Week 14. Theoretically, Moss needed to separate himself. Which he didn't do quite enough.
Moss won't win the MVP award because he's not a quarterback. Or a running back. The last non-QB/RB to win the AP MVP award was Lawrence Taylor in 1986. And no wide receiver has ever won it -- not even Jerry Rice in 1987, when he won the Pro Football Writers' award.
Even though breaking Rice's season record for TD catches is just as impressive and significant as Brady breaking Manning's mark for TD passes, Moss won't get the MVP because he won't get the same recognition. In any other season, what he accomplished would have been more recognized and honored, but with Brady having his best statistical season, we didn't necessarily realize Moss' domination. That's not wrong, that's just human nature.
Moss won't win the MVP award because he's been too perfect. For most players this would be a gift not a curse, but for him it's too distant from the picture that has been painted of him since he was drafted in 1998. The sullenness, the sulking, the walking off of the field with time left on the clock, playing only on certain downs, the Raiders experience -- all of this represents how the public sees Moss, defines who he is in our minds. But this year he's almost been angelic. And instead of giving him sole credit for changing and maturing, we will say it was the Patriots organization that changed him. Even though he had more of an effect on them than they did on him.
Moss won't win the MVP award because we don't want to honor that truth. The truth that the main reason the Patriots were able to go undefeated is because of the attitude change the team inherited from him. We see Spygate as the reason for the anger or "chippiness," as Tom Jackson calls it. But it was Moss who helped the Patriots get hard.
Moss won't win the MVP award because of his braids, because he publicly admitted that he smokes weed, because he's unapologetic about his West Virginia roots and doesn't mask who he really is, and because he's never been ashamed of how the world sees him.
Moss won't win the MVP award because of that beard. (Anyone who can make Ricky Williams' old facial hair look groomed doesn't stand a chance.)
Moss won't win the MVP award because all of those unbelievable catches he made this season (remember the one-handed grab against the Colts or the one-handed, double-covered, over-the-shoulder catch in the corner of the end zone against the Dolphins in Week 7?) tend to have people thinking that Brady's accuracy is what is making Moss look good, when actually Moss has made bad passes by Brady look like genius decisions.
Which brings us back to the beginning. The reason Randy Moss will not win the MVP award is because of this: He's Randy Moss. And a lot of people simply can't get past that.
Scoop Jackson is a columnist for Page 2. Sound off to him here.