We have an issue to discuss on NFL Thursday this time out, as we have had to do in the MNC Wednesday column, as well: cheaters. We will have to take this on eventually for MLB Monday as well, sadly. One of the reasons we have become disillusioned with modern-day sports is the ability of players to cheat, get caught, and still prosper, so in our spaces here, we will not let that happen.

We have stripped multiple Associated Press poll winners in college football of their mythical national titles, and we will do the same here for the NFL with players and individual awards. If you don’t like this, or disagree with it, then don’t read our stuff: no harm, no foul. Go write your own stuff and argue it to people of like-minded nature.

So, we definitely will be revising this year’s NFL MVP award(s) …

2007 MVP: Tom Brady (original AP & PFWA), David Garrard (revised)

One player, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Patrick Willis, topped 10 tackles per game, posting 174 takedowns in 16 games. He also defended 5 passes, made 4 sacks, and forced 2 fumbles. But the 5-11 49ers missed the postseason, leaving Willis as non-contender for the MVP Award.

San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie intercepted 10 passes, while defending 18 passes, recovering 2 fumbles, and scoring 2 defensive touchdowns. The Chargers did win 11 games, enough to claim the AFC West Division, so he will remain an outside candidate for our award at this time.

Three players topped the 100-point QB rating threshold: New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (117.2), Pittsburgh Steelers signal caller Ben Roethlisberger (104.1), and Jacksonville Jaguars journeyman David Garrard (102.2). Brady set an NFL record with 50 TD passes to win both MVP Award voting processes, but he is ineligible for our award process due to previously documented cheating scandals.

(We do wonder why these voting bodies rewarded him despite having knowledge of the Patriots’ cheating since September 2007 of this season, including evidence that New England had been doing this since the 2000 season. Sometimes journalists really are complicit in the fraudulent mythos of sports, aren’t they?)

The Jags and the Steelers both made the postseason, although neither Garrard (12 starts) or Roethlisberger (15) played a full season. But Jacksonville posted a 2-2 record without their QB—and a 9-3 record with him, and we’ve seen players like that win the MVP Award in this space before now.

Meanwhile, in a bit of a twist, no running back averaged 100 yards per game this season, perhaps signaling the final arrival of the passing-game dominance. Chargers RB and 2006 MVP LaDainian Tomlinson led the league with 1,474 yards, while scoring 15 TDs without fumbling once. He was the best of the bunch, followed by Minnesota Vikings youngster Adrian Peterson (1,341 yards and 12 TDs).

Accordingly, six receivers topped the 100-catch threshold, led by Patriots WR Wes Welker and Cincinnati Bengals WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh (112 receptions each). Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne had a fine season with 104 catches, an NFL-high 1,510 yards, and 10 TD receptions, while Patriots star Randy Moss set a new NFL record with 23 TD catches—not to mention his 98 receptions and 1,493 receiving yards.

So, even with Peterson, the Vikings went just 8-8 to miss the postseason, while the Bengals posted just a 7-9 record themselves. We will not consider anyone on the New England roster for MVP, since the cheating is documented. But the Colts did win 13 games to claim a division crown and a playoff berth.

Right now, then, we’re looking at a preliminary short list of Cromartie, Roethlisberger, Garrard, Tomlinson, and Wayne for MVP as we go to the scrimmage-yards list to see if we’re missing anyone in this year’s analysis: Philadelphia Eagles RB Brian Westbrook topped the league with 2,104 total yards, while scoring 12 times and fumbling just twice—but his team also went 8-8 to finish last in the NFC East. One more victory might have gotten the Eagles in, sadly.

LT was second in total yards (1,949) while scoring 18 times without a single turnover; that’s quite impressive, and again, the Chargers went 11-5 to win the AFC West. All other offensive players were well off the pace for scrimmage yards, once again showing that the league was finally becoming a QB’s league.

San Diego had the fourth-best defense in the AFC, in terms of scoring, but the Chargers were the only team in the AFC West Division to finish above .500 for the year, and that means a lot of bad opponents/easy games. Do we hold that against Cromartie and LT? Well, we have to consider it, as well as the reality they each were MVP candidates on a team that played an easy schedule.

Tomlinson was probably the best player in the league that didn’t cheat, so there’s that, but we’re not going to call him the most valuable this time around. That leaves us with Big Ben, Garrard, and Wayne, and we have to check out those three players’ supporting casts, as is often warranted:

  • Roethlisberger: RB Willie Parker (1,480 yards, 2 TDs, 4 TOs), WR Santonio Holmes (989 yards, 8 TDs, 2 TOs)
  • Garrard: RB Fred Taylor (1,260 yards, 5 TDs, 2 TOs), RB Maurice Jones-Drew (1,175 yards, 9 TDs, 2 TOs)
  • Wayne: QB Peyton Manning (98.0 QB rating), RB Joseph Addai (1,436 yards, 15 TDs, 0 TOs)

Wayne, by far, had the best support of our top candidates, so he falls by the wayside. Garrard had the unique situation with two RBs in support, while his best receiver—WR Reggie Williams—totaled just 637 yards albeit with 10 TDs. The other Jax QB, someone named Quinn Gray, tossed more INTs (5) in four games than Garrard threw (3) in 12 games.

Meanwhile, Big Ben had adequate support in Pittsburgh, especially when we consider WR Hines Ward (743 total yards, 7 TDs, 0 TOs) was better than Jacksonville’s Williams. The Jags won 11 games with no WR corps, basically, and Garrard won 9 of his 12 starts. If given all the starts, perhaps Jacksonville wins 12 or 13 games and beats out Indianapolis for the division title, and Garrard is the main reason for the team’s playoff berth, really.

He would be out of the league by 2011, and his 85.8 career QB rating is somewhat pedestrian for the era he played in, but in throwing 18 TDs against only 3 INTs during the 2007 season, Garrard ends up being our surprise MVP pick for this uniquely pivotal season in NFL history.

Check in every Thursday for our NFL awards historical analysis on The Daily McPlay!