It is incredibly difficult for a wide receiver to even enter the discussion of Most Valuable Player for the entire NFL, let alone to actually win it. All one need do is consider the fact that a wide receiver has never won the award, even though Jerry Rice is considered by many the greatest football player ever.
That Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers have now thrust himself into the conversation is in itself a remarkable achievement that he himself acknowledges, recently telling reporters following a 213-yard game, “to even be mentioned with those guys is something special”, making reference to playing in “a quarterback league”.
Chances are, a quarterback is still going to win the award when all is said and done. Following some key injuries this season, it could end up defaulting once again to Tom Brady, who even after an unspectacular showing against the Dolphins, is still having a very good year.
Through the first 13 games, the man many now consider the greatest player ever, even over Rice, or Jim Brown, has 27 touchdown passes to just six interceptions, averaging over eight yards per attempt with a 67.4 completion percentage, nearing 4000 passing yards on the season.
That is a very good season for a quarterback. But it is no longer remarkable. The pace that Brown is on remains in that lofty territory of “he shouldn’t be able to do that”. projected to finish with 122 receptions for 1857 yards and 10 or 11 touchdowns, which would be among the top handful greatest seasons a wide receiver has ever had. And Brown should know, as he has already had one or two of them before.
One of his biggest obstacles might end up being his own success, as if the Steelers clinch homefield advantage throughout the playoffs early, he figures to sit out a game, as he did last year, which hurt his statistics and caused him to lose the reception title to Larry Fitzgerald.
But if we really look at the value of each individual player based on the tape, I really think that Brown has an excellent point of contention to make, especially in his performance over the course of the past month.
Not only has he simply been excellent on the field in the little nuances of the game, he has repeatedly come up with huge receptions in huge moments, from the first game of the season against the Browns to the last game in the division-clincher against the Ravens. You want value? He’s all value.
His teammate, Jesse James, agrees that he deserves to be in the discussion. “If there’s any receiver who could get MVP, it’s him”, he said. “Plays that shouldn’t happen, he makes plays on. Balls that shouldn’t be caught, he gets his feet in. He makes the best play look like it’s easy for him. Best receiver in the game, there’s no doubt”.
It’s hard to argue with that. All you need is eyes and a highlight reel.