Last week, Hub Arkush of Pro Football Weekly was on 670 the Score in Chicago when the topic arose about Aaron Rodgers potentially winning the MVP for this NFL season. Hub said some disparaging things about Rodgers personally in the interview and Hub mentioned reasons why he'd not vote for #12 of GB, comments he'd later regret. (Just to be clear, only Hub and 49 other AP writers have a vote for the MVP.)
To briefly digress, it’s said that local broadcasters and guests on “small-town radio” sometimes engage in “loose lips” when in a more intimate setting. My first reaction was that Hub really took it to Aaron Rodgers and had determined Rodgers is unworthy of the award. Mr. Arkush also referred to Aaron as "a bad guy" and later in the interview said he's the biggest jerk around. Hub went on to say that during the off-season, Rodgers punished and tortured Packer fans. More on that later.
Besides insulting Aaron Rodgers, Hub also violated a code to keep quiet about who he voted for before the voting was complete and winners awarded (in fairness, Hub only mentioned who he wasn’t voting for). He may have followed the letter of the law but certainly not the spirit.
Will his vote be removed among only 50 sportswriters from the AP? Time will tell if the NFL takes any action and in my mind, the NFL will take zero action, playoffs are around the corner, gambling on NFL games is hot, NFL is still very popular so let's just move on.
If there's one takeaway from this spat, I hope that the NFL moving forward will emphasize before the voting process actual criteria that should be considered and not considered when voting. One thing that I hope is transparent enough: Personal opinions should be removed from voting, whether the MVP, rookie of the year, defensive player of the year, etc.
Getting back to the interview, Hub also said that Rodgers even “tortured fans” by some of his comments and elusiveness this past summer. Excuse the hyperbole but in his mind, the fans were punished and possibly tortured by Aaron’s indecision on coming back to play with the Packers in the 2021-22 season. I don’t know about others but I’d rather be punished than tortured. Tortured just sounds too medieval for me to consider. What was perhaps lost in the story was the amount of hyperbole Hub engaged -- one for the ages.
So let’s quickly look at the Associated Press MVP award. To the best of my knowledge, there are no guidelines in terms of the most valuable. Should off-field behavior come into question? I would think it only applies if the off-season offense was a felony or other serious charge. If you strictly look at on-field performance, Aaron is the most valuable player to his team and in the league. By earning a 1 seed, I wonder if that basically solidified the deal? Did it have something to do with Aaron being the most careful and efficient quarterback as he's only thrown 4 interceptions the entire season and if you remove the first game, he’s thrown 37 touchdowns and 2 interceptions in 15 games? But again, with only 50 writers with voting privileges, a few deviations away from the sometimes malcontent Rodgers might sway some voters. To make this voting more represented, you could add a ten-fold increase that would help dilute the current sample size. For example, instead of a small 50, you could have 500 voters instead.
One brief digression, another issue with the MVP vote, according to Peter King of MMQB, is that you only can choose one player who's MVP, you can't list or rank your top 3 or 5 players. That's just not an option so this limitation brings up a completely different issue altogether. If you added this design to the process, it certainly may add more context and nuance to the current system.
I’m a Packer fan who does not think Rodgers is a ‘bad guy.’ A really bright guy who wants more say in front office decisions after spending all his years in GB. He’s arrogant at times and opinionated too but I don’t have issues with that either -- that's his personality. I just want Aaron to be honest with the fans and media and when I say ‘honest,’ don’t mislead people in any way. I was quite disappointed he mislead the Wisconsin press about his immunization status. His public persona took a nosedive after that debacle. I hope he learns from the immunization incident and moves on. At the same time, I had no issue over the last off-season of Aaron trying to create more leverage in the talent evaluation space. Not a final decision but some say in the matter.
If changes are forthcoming about the voting structure, that will come from the NFL and not from the AP. Will NFL representatives privately reach out to Hub and avoid the personal stuff and keep any votes or non-votes private. Perhaps it's better kept behind the NFL shield. It’s been about 7 days since Hub’s comments and nothing from the NFL. Again, with only 50 voters, again, a few votes here or there could make a big difference in the balloting.
To his credit, Hub did later clarify his comments and seemed contrite and sorry for his comments as he penned a public letter meant to apologize to Aaron. He also “failed to respect” the cardinal rule of voting which is to not announce your vote (or non-vote) prior to the MVP being announced. It wouldn’t hurt for Aaron to do likewise; calling a sports writer "a bum" is certainly not professional. If Aaron’s keeping score, I don’t suspect that apology will occur anytime soon.