Sunday, January 10, 2010

News That Made Me Mad As Hell

Sunday’s Times Picayune contained an article that had my blood boiling.

It was outrageous and proof that a certain body of “experts” lack all objectivity and possess an obtuse mindset.

The collective action by this group was inexplicable and ought to cause their credibility as leaders in their field to be questioned.

Of course, I’m referring to the article heralding that Saints quarterback Drew Brees was denied the Associated Press’ NFL MVP award.

Oh wait…you thought I was going off about the decision by the Louisiana Republican Party to issue a fatwa against a group of young professionals in the New Orleans area.

While that certainly has been a great point of annoyance, I’ll get around to addressing that issue later. Besides, it’s not like the state GOP putting a blunderbuss up to its head and pulling the trigger should be considered newsworthy.

Back to a subject the public actually cares about.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that Brees came in second, though not because he was the second best performer on the professional gridiron this season. No, it’s because I am convinced the people who make decisions concerning individual pro-football accolades have posters of Peyton Manning and Tom Brady plastered across their bedroom walls.

Why do I make this accusation?

Consider the following. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning claimed his FOURTH MVP award by a landslide 39.5 votes, or 79% of the total votes cast. His nearest rival was Brees, who garnered a paltry 7.5 votes.

Wowzers! Yes that’s a lot of sportswriters in the tank for Peyton.

Judging by that disparity you’d think the scion of former Saints great Archie Manning would have had a much better season than the man who is THE greatest Saints quarterback.


The basic numbers for Manning are as follows: passed for 4500 yards, 33 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Brees’s in the aforementioned categories are 4,388 yards in passing, 34 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

A virtual draw…except Brees’s are better in two out of the three, marginally concerning touchdowns, significantly regarding INTs. If one were to apply general fantasy football scoring to these three sets of numbers, Brees would have more points.

But what about the other numbers?

Brees, not one to be compared to the likes of Michael Vick on ANY level, rushed for 33 yards and scored 2 touchdowns on the ground; Manning didn’t run ANY touchdowns into the endzone and rushed for a negative integer, -17.

Sacks and ball handling is the one area where Peyton had significantly better stats than Brees. Peyton was sacked only 10 times and didn’t turnover a single fumble to the opposition in contrast to Brees’s 20 sacks and having coughed up the ball 6 times. But interceptions, not fumbles, tend to be the negative stat most people weight when judging quarterbacks.

However there are two sets of numbers where Brees clearly outclassed Peyton: completion percentage and passing average. Peyton completed 68.8% of his passes while the Saints qb completed 70.6% of his passes.

Though the difference between the two’s pass/completion average is seemingly miniscule, it was Brees’s average that broke the season record of 70.5% set by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson in 1982. It should be kept in mind that Brees flirted with breaking Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino’s passing yards record last year, breaking 5,000 yard but coming up just a bit short of besting the Hall of Famer’s benchmark.

Though Peyton passed for 112 more yards than Brees, the Saints quarterback had 57 fewer attempts, which is not a bad thing since the Saints’ commitment to the run in 2009 season played no small role in racking up a record 13 (straight) wins.

Both players are clearly indispensable to their teams. As Times Picayune sportswriter Jeff Duncan observed, one only had to watch the Saints finale at Carolina to see what the Saints would look like sans Brees. It’s not a pretty picture.

A frequent complaint by Saints fans that does not involve Charles Grant is the lack of respect the team receives from the national media.

The AP’s overwhelming adulation for Peyton and relatively little support for Brees rightfully reinforces this belief and helped make the chip in the shoulders of Saints fans that much deeper.

It’s not that Peyton wasn’t a deserving recipient; it was that Brees was more deserving.

The Other Screw-Job
As if it were an omen of the MVP farce, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was selected NFL Comeback Player of the Year. New Orleans Saints defensive tackle Anthony Hargrove received one vote for this award.

While Brady posted strong numbers after missing out almost all of last season with a knee injury, I would hardly consider Brady’s story as true “comeback” material as he only had one real hiccup in what has been a magnificent career.

Perhaps I am more sympathetic to Hargrove for parochial and personal reasons.

As an unapologetic Saints fan, I am prone to show favoritism, unlike those totally unbiased MVP voters- right?, but I also have respect from where Hargrove came back from.

Hargrove’s playing career was endangered not by an injury sustained on the field but because of substance abuse. His personal story is sad and tragic, though inspiring in a gritty sense as people who have walked as far down the road Hargrove had generally don’t walk back.

Hargrove has made a great deal of progress turning his life around, even offering a heartfelt apology for his behavior to the fans of the previous teams he played for. As the relatively obscure Hargrove didn’t have media monitoring his every move, unlike a certain other player that landed in big trouble, so his public contrition is that much more remarkable.

Number sixty-nine could have quietly tried to blend in, not attract attention to himself and cash his checks, but he didn’t. Hargrove has had a good year stepping in after injuries took down the Saints’ starting defensive tackle.

Brady spent the past season repairing an injured knee with his supermodel wife and a pile of money. Hargrove, by contrast, was fighting for the opportunity to make the league minimum and healing his soul.

It’s regrettable that the fanboy sportswriters don’t have a greater appreciation of the differences between the two players’ comebacks.

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