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Tom Brady Deserved MVP Award, But Aaron Rodgers Won It Anyway

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- I will fully admit that this may be some twisted New England way of thinking, but nevertheless, I must say it: If you swapped Aaron Rodgers' and Tom Brady's statistics this past season, the people who argued for Rodgers to be MVP would still have made the case for the Green Bay quarterback to be MVP, albeit while using the arguments that were actually made for the Buccaneers' quarterback to win MVP.

If that's confusing, then good. Because this MVP race was a bit perplexing.

Aaron Rodgers, despite his self-appointed status as a victim of media bias, took home the NFL's MVP award for the second straight year and fourth time overall on Thursday night. The one-time Super Bowl champion has another trophy to fill the cabinet.

Is it an outrage? No. Of course not. For one, getting overly worked up about any sports award is a bit much for a species with a finite amount of living to do on this planet. And secondly, Rodgers was an excellent quarterback in 2021. He was worthy of the award, no doubt.

Yet I can't help but feel as though this was a missed opportunity for the history books to reflect just how absurd the past season was for the 44-year-old Tom Brady, the best quarterback to ever play the sport who went out with an absolute bang and a half in 2021. It was a one-in-a-billion season from a one-in-a-trillion quarterback. An MVP award was the proper commemoration.

Brady, of course, was playing at an age where damn near every non-kicker in history has been unable to even put on pads and tie his shoes. Only four quarterbacks had even attempted to play at age 44, and they were all quite bad, combining to start eight games while throwing 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, with a combined win-loss record of 2-6 and a combined passer rating of 66.2

Tom Brady was slightly better. He was conditioned and strong enough to lead the league in passing attempts, and he was good enough for his team to entrust him to do so. The Bucs had just 385 rushing attempts all year, the second-fewest in the NFL; they ranked second in yards and second in points.

That was all Brady.

He led the league in completions, passing yards and touchdowns. He threw 43 touchdowns, the second-highest mark of his historic, GOAT-worthy career, while setting a career high in passing yardage (albeit with the extra game played).

Brady threw 47 passes more than Justin Herbert, who ranked second in attempts, and Brady threw 199 passes (hey, what a number!) more than Joe Burrow, who ranked 15th. Despite the volume of passes thrown, Brady still saw 13 quarterbacks throw more interceptions than he did this past season.

In a word, Brady's season was legendary.

Of course, Rogers' season was excellent, too. He threw 37 touchdowns with just four interceptions. That's insane. It's not nearly as insane as his stats from 2020, when he threw 48 touchdowns and just five interceptions (what?!). He also missed a game this year, because he didn't get a COVID vaccination. That he lied about that vaccination created a whole other thing. There, he might have galaxy-brained the media into voting for him to prove that they're not holding the vaccination lie against him, while he maintains that the media is mad at him for not receiving the vaccine at all, when the basis for almost all of the criticism levied his way was actually just the fact that he lied about it. It's a whole thing. Best not to stoke the fires.

Regardless, Rodgers' football season -- which is the matter at hand for an MVP vote -- was excellent. Quite nifty, even. The Packers may have ranked 10th offensively, but the argument may say that they'd rank even worse if not for Rodgers' performance, which was dynamite.

And now, he's got the hardware to prove it. That's fine.

But as was stated in very confusing fashion at the start of this story, doesn't it feel like if Rodgers led the league in passing yards (by a lot) and led the league in passing touchdowns, while winning 13 games, while leading a team with the second-ranked offense despite the 26th-ranked rushing attack ... wouldn't the people have made the case for Rodgers? No? Am I crazy.

Maybe. I've never disputed that possibility.

I just feel that the greatest quarterback of all time just gave the league and the sport a swan song for the ages, a legitimately unbelievable performance. He was better than every 44-year-old ever, and he was better than every current quarterback ... while being 44 years old.

In the big picture, Brady having or not having this MVP award doesn't really matter to anyone. Probably not even to Brady himself. He's got seven freaking Super Bowl rings lying around at home, so the regular-season award probably doesn't mean a ton.

Still, he was good enough to win this award, going out on top, adding to the legend, giving a tangible landmark to which we could have all pointed for years and years and years as evidence that the greatest quarterback of all time played out of his freaking mind when he was 44 years old and on his way out of football.

It should have been Brady. That's all.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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