Meet the man who dared cast the lone dissenting vote for Green Bay's Brett Favre in the Most Valuable Player balloting this seasons. The other 49 votes, of course, went to New England's Tom Brady ... and naturally, the one dissenting vote forced some greedy Patriots fans into a fit.
His name is Frank Cooney and he runs NFLDraftScout.com
and The SportsXchange, one of the country's leading providers of sports data and analysis. He's a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter
and a friend of the Cold, Hard Football Facts. We actually first met Cooney (through cyberspace, anyway) when he contacted us to rip us about something we wrote last year. We disagreed with him on a number of issues, and still do. We don't take tea together. But we found a guy who loves football, had plenty of Cold, Hard Football Facts by his side, and was passionate and knowledgeable about the game.
So when we found out today he cast the lone dissenting vote, we decided to write to him and ask him to tell us about his vote in his own words. After all, as our own "coldhard" noted in our Football Forum Saturday
, it's not like Favre is some sort of chump. He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer who's in the midst of one of the top three statistical seasons of long career, may end up in the Super Bowl and was named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year. Sounds like a pretty valuable season.
But Cooney's a grown man and can speak for himself. Here is his response to us, in his own unedited words. He makes quite a bit of sense. But you judge for yourself.
First, let's be clear that this award is a distinctly individual honor in the ultimate team sport, which makes it extremely difficult to sort out in the first place.
As such, it cannot be based on statistics, which reap their own rewards. The term we are addressing here is Most Valuable Player, which I take to mean most valuable to one's team. It is, at best, an awkward phrase to evaluate, let alone quantify or justify. But, again, mere statistics should not be the sole basis of consideration. So it takes an understanding of a larger picture to get this into focus.
Tom Brady is a great player on a great team filled with great players in a highly-evolved system and a proven, veteran coach. That team, that franchise, was expected to win 14 games and it won 16. Brady was awesome behind an awesome line and with awesome wide receivers in a great system with the help of excellent defense and special teams.
He threw 50 touchdowns, 23 to Randy Moss. I appreciate all of that. Great players, great offense, great stats, great organization. It's all awesome.
In addressing the subject of the individual honor of Most Valuable Player, however, one is confronted by one of those chicken-or-egg scenarios. Was Brady great because of his team or was the team great because of Brady?
There is no right or wrong answer there, just endless debate. I am familiar with this debate because it raged when Brady's idol, Joe Montana, was the quarterback in the 49ers West Coast offense. But the fact that the question can be asked opens the way for comparing Brady's individual accomplishments in 2007 with those of other NFL players.
In fact, one might ask if Randy Moss was the MVP, considering that Brady and the Pats did not manage 16 wins or 50 touchdown passes before Moss arrived. Or We Welker, for that matter.
Favre was the quarterback and unquestioned leader of the youngest team in the NFL, one that was expected to win only five games. He led that team to 13 wins. I think that was more valuable INDIVIDUAL achievement than what Brady managed with his great team.
How can one measure "Value?" Not sure.
But Favre hoisted the fate of an entire franchise squarely on his shoulders. This is a franchise that was stumbling into the 2007 season with no concept of what it could accomplish. He inspired his team as much with his attitude, on and off the field, as he did with his arm. The fact that he returned to play at all infused the team with a positive attitude and may have prevented the franchise from emotionally imploding. There's no statistic that accurately reflects his impact on the success of the Packers franchise in 2007. But there is a terminology that is apt and that is Most Valuable Player.
Hell, it doesn't even mean he was the best quarterback in the league. It means exactly what it says, that he was the most valuable player to his team. Period.
The Patriots have and will continue to garner incredible team honors. It was an historic season for the Patriots and many of their players. Within that team there are many great players, starting with Brady and including Moss, Welker and one of the best offensive lines we have seen in years. But Most Valuable Player is an individual honor and I think as an individual that Favre was the Most Valuable Player on his team.
Finally, I support everybody's right to voice their opinions and theories for our great game of football and the great people who take part in it. It's part of what makes our great sport what it is. It is, after all, a complex game of conflict.
Congratulations to Brady for having a spectacular season and to the Patriots front office for putting together perhaps the most dominant franchise in the history of the game.
If Patriots fans would allow it, however, I think that my vote was justified for another historic player who breathed life into another historic, albeit floundering, franchise. Even amidst a flurry of honors that are indeed owed to Brady and the Pats, Favre's contribution to the 2007 season and the Packers is certainly worthy of note and, therefore, one man's humble vote.