A fun pastime with my sports buddies is to pick a person in power and ask what your pals would do if they could take his place for a single day.
If you could be the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, would you trade away a player? Cut someone you can’t stand? If you were the coach of the Carolina Panthers, would you bench someone and bring a player off the sidelines to give him a chance?
What if you could be the commissioner of the NFL for a day? What would you do with that power?
First off, Roger Goodell has a contract with a base salary of $20 million, with up to $40 million with incentives. So I want to make sure I get my one-day salary of $109,589.
There are a lot of rule changes and/or clarifications I would love to see; some of those I have shared in previous columns. Since I have spoken of those before, let me pick something different I would like to see.
I want to revamp the annual NFL awards, make them more like MLB.
Baseball knows how to hand out awards. It has bunches of them. AL MVP, NL MVP, AL Cy Young, NL Cy Young. Gold Gloves, Silver Sluggers, Rolaids Relief. There is something to appeal to everyone.
If I were the commissioner of baseball, the only rule I would change is that no pitcher would EVER win MVP. They already have a Cy Young award; leave MVP to the everyday players.
Similarly, if I were Goodell for a day, I would have a rule that quarterbacks can vie for MVP, but not also offensive player of the year. Let the QBs fight over one award, but let the rest of the guys have a chance to get something.
Also, like baseball, I think that the NFL should have awards for each conference. There should be an AFC MVP and NFC MVP.
I know, I know, the purists just had a heart attack. But let me throw out some facts.
In 56 years of the AP MVP award, 53 times the award has gone to an offensive player. Twice it has gone to a defensive player (DT Alan Page in 1971, OLB Lawrence Taylor in 1986), and once in the strike year of 1982 it went to kicker Mark Moseley.
Moreso, of the 53 wins, 37 times it has gone to a QB and 16 times to a running back.
Nine of the past 10 winners have been quarterbacks, with Adrian Peterson’s 2,000-yard season in 2012 the only exception.
No wide receiver has ever won the award. Not even the great Jerry Rice in his best season — 1995 when he broke the league record for receptions (122) and yardage (1,848) while scoring 16 TDs. Calvin Johnson broke Rice’s record with 1,960 yards in 2012, but people were more impressed with Peterson’s 2,000 yards — even though A.P. was the seventh player to do that, while Megatron was doing something not even Rice could do.
If Jerry Rice was never MVP, then obviously the award is pretty limited already, so let’s just make it the Cy Young of football and give out a different award for other players.
I know, I know, there is already an offensive player of the year award that kinda/sorta fits the bill. Out of 45 winners, only 19 times has it gone to a QB with running backs winning 24 times and Rice twice at WR. Still, that’s 19 times the award could have gone to a deserving player who wasn’t a quarterback.
Come on, with all the accolades heaped on Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, do they also need two offensive player awards each?
Now as for doubling the awards and giving out sets for each conference, I can see how some folks might object, but there are some things to consider.
For example, here is a list of Hall of Fame (and future Hall of Fame) players who have never won MVP: Gayle Sayers, Dan Fouts, Franco Harris, Eric Dickerson, Warren Moon, Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman and Ben Roethlisberger.
In 2014, Big Ben had a team record 4,952 yards passing and 32 TDs to only 9 interceptions. But he watched Aaron Rodgers win with a slightly higher QB rating.
To me, the biggest travesty is that one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time continues to be underappreciated and hasn’t won a single time.
In NFL history only five quarterbacks have ever thrown for 5,000 yards in a season. Four of them only did it once. The other guy has done it five times.
Drew Brees holds five of the top eight passing seasons in history, and six of the top 11. Big Ben’s team record of 4,952 yards? Brees threw for the exact same figure that season, and that is only his sixth-best season.
Dan Marino’s 5,084 yards was the league record until Brees destroyed that by almost 400 yards in 2011.
And he doesn’t just do it by throwing the ball around constantly. He’s accurate, having broken the NFL record for completion percentage three times, including this season.
This year, Brees led the league in completions despite being only ninth in pass attempts.
He led the league in yards per pass attempt. He also avoided sacks, finishing second in lowest sack rate to Philip Rivers. He was second in quarterback rating to Alex Smith. He threw the fewest interceptions in his 12 seasons in New Orleans.
Despite relying more on the running game, he still finished fourth in passing yards, only about 15 yards a game less than the league leader (and still more than 4,300 yards).
And yet, even with a surprising 11-5 record and a sweep of the Panthers, Brees still isn’t even in the conversation for MVP.
True, his touchdowns dropped to 23 this year, but that’s because any time the team got close to the goal line, the offensive coordinator called a running play. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara combined for 20 rushing TDs. But they wouldn’t have gotten to the goal line without Brees.
If there were AFC and NFC awards, Brady and Brees could both be selected. And Todd Gurley and Antonio Brown could be NFC and AFC offensive players of the year.
If MLB can do it, why can’t the NFL. So sayeth Commissioner Linville.
Jeff is the news editor and can be reached at 415-4692.