Even for Vikings’ Justin Jefferson, the NFL MVP Award would be a difficult catch
Since the trophy was 1st awarded in 1957, no receiver has ever won
EAGAN, Minn. — Justin Jefferson recently was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week. On Thursday, he was selected as NFC Offensive Player of the Month. Could something much bigger be on the horizon?
The Vikings star wide receiver is getting some NFL MVP Award buzz, but history shows it would be difficult for him to win it. Since the Associated Press began handing out the official NFL MVP trophy in 1957, it has gone to a quarterback 38 times, to a running back 16 times and only three times to players at any other position. And none was a receiver.
“To consider me as an MVP candidate is something that I’m grateful for,” Jefferson said Thursday. “But … MVP won’t determine the stuff that I did for my team throughout the season. I’m the Most Valuable Player in my own eyes. Getting the award would be fantastic, but to be in the discussion is good enough.”
Jefferson is third in the NFL with 81 receptions and second with 1,232 receiving yards. He captivated fans last month with a dramatic, one-handed catch in a 33-30 overtime win at Buffalo that kept Vikings alive late in regulation on fourth-and-18. And Minnesota is 9-2, tied for the second-best record in the league.
Yet BetOnline lists Jefferson as just an 80-1 shot to win MVP. The seven players with better odds are all quarterbacks.
“I don’t judge them for giving it to mostly quarterbacks because, of course, they’re a big position in the game. (It) pretty much determines if you’re going to be a good offense or not,” Jefferson said.
A 50-person panel of sportswriters votes for the award. Since it was first handed out, only three winners did not play quarterback or running back: Vikings defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971, Washington kicker Mark Moseley in 1982 and New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986.
“Personally, yes, I consider him to be an MVP, but I think that’s just an award just made for quarterbacks or running backs,” Vikings cornerback Patrick Peterson said. “I would love for him to at least get some attention, some votes to at least be one of the finalists this year.”
Jefferson, in fact, leads fan voting for the Pro Bowl Games. Yes, ahead of every single quarterback in that balloting. He is the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for November thanks to a four-game stretch in which he had 29 catches for 480 yards, including his highlight-reel catch against the Bills. Jefferson won the same award last November.
“It’s amazing what I’m doing, but it’s more than just me,” he said. “It doesn’t start with me.”
Jefferson then threw out thanks to the offensive line, running back Dalvin Cook and to quarterback Kirk Cousins.
In his last game, Jefferson caught nine passes for 139 yards and a touchdown in a 33-26 win over New England on Thanksgiving. During that game, he broke Vikings hall of famer Randy Moss’ record for most yards receiving in a player’s first three seasons and now has 4,248. On Thursday, ESPN published a “Cover Story” on him across its various platforms.
Through it all, Jefferson said that even though “fame and money comes with the game,” he’ll just “continue to be myself.”
He will be back in the limelight Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, going against the New York Jets and star rookie Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, rated by Pro Football Focus as the NFL’s top cornerback.
“I’m looking forward to it, for sure,’’ Jefferson said. “I mean, he’s a great corner. …. But I’m confident in my game, in my skill set, to win my battles.”
Vikings offensive coordinator Wes Phillips said it will be an “exciting” matchup for fans to watch. And when it comes to watching what Jefferson has done lately, Phillips doesn’t deny that he looks on at times as if he were a fan.
“He’s just a special player, and I think we’re all privileged to be a part of this thing,’’ Phillips said. “I mean, just us as fans, just being close to it. Seeing a great player doing things that, this league’s been around a long time, and people haven’t done before. Just as a football fan, it’s cool to kind of be a part of it.”
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