DENVER (CBS4) – Peyton Manning is on pace for the second-best statistical NFL season of his career. He’s already thrown for more than 4,000 yards with 34 touchdown passes, a single season franchise record for the Broncos.
Does he deserve to be the league’s MVP or the Comeback Player of the Year, or both?
Before Sunday’s game former Broncos lineman Tom Nalen spoke out on the matter and issued what might be considered a surprising opinion to some: He deserves neither.
“I think as a quarterback he’s going to split votes between Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady,” Nalen said. “To me the MVP right now is Adrian Peterson.”
“Peyton Manning has come into a team that with Tim Tebow as quarterback made it to the playoffs and won a playoff game last year. But I think if you took Adrian Peterson off his team, that team goes nowhere.”
As far as being comeback player of the year, Nalen admitted he doesn’t have much experience with how hard it is to come back from a neck injury like Manning’s, but “Peterson less than a year ago tore his ACL and his MCL, has 1,800 yards, is on pace to break Eric Dickerson’s record. I give that to him as well.”
Reggie Rivers, another former Broncos player, disagreed with Nalen on CBS4′s Football Preview show, saying Manning should get the MVP trophy.
“Yes the Broncos were in the playoffs last year, but nobody thought the Broncos had a chance to beat the Patriots last year. Nobody thought the Broncos could win the Super Bowl last year. That is what Peyton Manning has done to this team this year — people now think that is possible — and without Manning I don’t think they’re in the position they are in.”
Rivers said he thinks Peterson should get the nod for comeback player.
Hall of Famer Dan Fouts, who called Sunday’s Broncos-Browns game for CBS, told CBS4′s Gary Miller at Sports Authority Field at Mile High before the game that he thinks Manning’s best attribute is his football smarts and his “ability to control all facets of the offense.”
“It’s remarkable how he has performed throughout his career,” Fouts said. “I admire him so much and especially this year after coming back from the neck surgeries and coming to a new team, with new teammates, new offense. It’s a great story.”
After Sunday’s win, in which Manning threw for a season-high 339 yards and three touchdowns, Miller said he was particulary impressed with Manning’s overall leadership.
“You talk about a leader? He’s as good a leader as there is in the NFL,” Miller said on CBS4′s All Access Sunday night.
“I think he absolutely does sets the standard. He works as hard — probably harder than anybody. … He calls guys out on things. If guys don’t do things the way he thinks they should he’s not silent about it. I’m not going to say he’s the most popular guy there, but he’s the most possessed guy there. … It’s exactly what you want from the leader of your football team.”
Miller noted that Manning was wearing a glove on his throwing hand, despite the fact that no rain or snow was falling. He said it’s probably because Manning was just trying to stay a step ahead — preparing for if he does have to wear a glove while playing in bad weather during the playoffs.
On Monday morning Manning’s coach replied to the question of whether he thinks Manning deserves to be the MVP.
“Obviously I might be a little biased and with all due respect for everybody involved, I think what’s unique about Peyton, not that he’s had a fabulous year — which he has — but he’s done it in a new city with a new team and I think at that position, in my own personal opinion, that’s what kind of separates him from the rest of the field,” Fox said.