Player honors can generate some of the most heated debates in sports -- particularly arguments over who is a particular sport's MVP for that season. In the final weeks of the NFL and entering the postseason, the battle is taking place between two outstanding quarterbacks -- New England's Tom Brady and Philadelphia's Michael Vick. It is an emotional debate for some fans who may have an agenda that goes beyond who is truly the MVP in 2010.
Stripping away the emotion, though, the cold reality is that Brady is the MVP.
The problem with the debate stems from the name of the honor itself -- the most valuable player -- and the interpretation of what makes someone the MVP.
Often the award goes to the player with the best season, which arguably may be the most outstanding player but not necessarily the MVP. And then there is the debate over whether a player on a losing team who has outstanding numbers can truly be an MVP.
It's difficult to quantify the value of one player to his team, and often the fallback is simply to pick the player -- usually at a high-profile skill position -- who had the most outstanding season that can be quantified. Sometimes, however, you simply know the MVP when you see him.
Brady fits either of those standards.
The three-time Super Bowl winning quarterback led his team -- a Patriots squad that was expected to be in a rebuilding year -- to a 14-2 record and a league-leading 518 points scored. Individually, Brady amassed 36 touchdowns passes -- against just four interceptions -- and threw for 3,900 yards. His quarterback rating was 111.
Vick had an outstanding season. The Eagles finished 10-6 and on top of the NFC East. Vick started 12 of those games and threw 21 touchdowns and just six interceptions, completing 62.6 percent of his passes with a quarterback rating of 100.2. He also rushed for 676 yards, averaging 6.8 yards a carry. But he fumbled three times as well.
In the final weeks -- after Vick stunned the league with his electrifying performance against the Redskins -- his performances began to slip, so much so that ESPN's Sal Paolantonio, who is close to the Eagles organization, said that Philadelphia coach Andy Reid was not happy with Vick's ability to read the blitz and would consider pulling Vick for Kevin Kolb in their upcoming playoff game against Green Bay if Vick struggled.
That would appear to border on the ridiculous. The Eagles seem to feed off Vick and his presence on the field, and any chance Philadelphia has of reaching the Super Bowl would appear to depend on Vick's success.
That would seem to make the argument for Vick as the MVP -- except that the Patriots would be far, far less without Brady, particularly if you look at the weapons both quarterbacks work with.
Vick had explosive tools, such as LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Compare that to Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead in New England. And remember, the Patriots cut Randy Moss and got better as a team.
Michael Vick is the NFL comeback player of the year. But Tom Brady is the league's MVP.
Examiner columnist Thom Loverro is the co-host of "The Sports Fix" from noon to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday on ESPN980 and espn980.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org