Welcome back to NFL Thursday! Our second miniseries examines awarded Super Bowl MVPs (15-for-40 so far) and Rookies of the Year (29-for-49). This was a pretty tame season in contrast to the last handful of years we’ve had in this space, so we’re thankful for that. It’s nice to not have any real controversies or scandals to deal with on The Daily McPlay. Contrary to popular belief, we like “tame” when it comes to the sports world … so, on with the show!

Super Bowl XLI MVP: Peyton Manning, QB, Indianapolis (original); Dominic Rhodes, RB, Indianapolis (revised)

The Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears, 29-17, in the Super Bowl, overcoming a first-quarter 14-6 deficit. Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, who recently won our revised 1997 Heisman Trophy analysis, was named the game’s MVP at the time for the following stat line: 247 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 turnovers. It’s known we don’t like QB MVPs who give the ball away, so we’re going to look elsewhere here, as the Colts defense, for example, gave up just 265 total yards in this game.

But before we do that, are there any other candidates from the Indy offense? Yes! The Colts two running backs combined for 190 rushing yards on just 40 carries, while also adding 74 yards receiving combined. These two guys were the story for the offense, not Manning and his two turnovers (one INT, one fumble). How did the voters miss this at the time? Of the two, we’d have to go with Dominic Rhodes (121 total yards, 1 TD) even though Joseph Addai was also very good (142 total yards, 77 on the ground).

Rhodes had more to do with possession and scoring, and it was his TD run that gave the Colts the lead for good. The defense sealed it in the fourth quarter with an INT return for the game’s final score (Kelvin Hayden doing the honors). Bob Sanders also had a big game with an INT and a forced fumble. Overall, though, the defensive effort was collective rather than a singular effort from one player. We will go with Rhodes here, as it’s unreal to us to think Manning actually won this award.

2006 NFL ROTY: Vince Young, QB, Tennessee & DeMeco Ryans, LB, Houston (original); Mark Anderson, DE, Chicago (revised)

Neither ROTY vote winner above played for a postseason participant, so this field is wide open. Young actually threw more INTs than TDs, so he’s out, and Ryan’s team won just six times. It’s hard to take his 126-tackle effort seriously under those circumstances. So, who else can we consider? Only three players, really, and two of them played for the same team: New Orleans Saints RB Reggie Bush (1,523 total yards and 9 TDs) and wide receiver Marques Colston (1,038 receiving yards and 8 TDs).

Bush was better, but they both cancel each other out, even though the Saints improved 7 wins (!) from the year before to post a 10-6 record and win the NFC South Division. Why weren’t those players voted in over Young? Good question. Either way, our default pick for ROTY ends up being Bears defensive end Mark Anderson, who notched 12 sacks, 4 FFs, and 2 PDs as Chicago improved 2 wins from the year before in defending its NFC North Division title. Pretty straightforward, for once. We’ll take it.