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Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013, 8:56 p.m.
 

One of the most coveted individual honors is the Most Valuable Player award for the NFL. No other sport has so many positions and contributors who chip in for a win or are responsible for a loss.

Usually this is a quarterback-laden race, and most likely Peyton Manning will nab the award yet again. Sure, a case will be made for Calvin Johnson's record-setting season, or Aaron Rogers' 108.0 quarterback rating, or Tom Brady because, well, he is Tom Brady.

My vote, if anyone cared to ask, is for Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

One of my journalistic favorites is Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe, who is outspoken to say the least. I have my opinion on the matter, but man did my man Shannon make a compelling case for Manning last week. Sharpe pointed out how Manning took the Broncos from average to the No. 1 seed. He also noted that Manning made everyone else on the team better. He also shot a hole in my candidate's qualification, mentioning that the Vikings were 3-13 with Peterson playing in all but one game, and that while Manning made his team better, Peterson only made himself better.

Sharpe's argument nearly changed my mind, but one criterion I look at in addition to his is where would the Vikings have been without the stud runner? Also, we are talking about this year's race for the honor, and how Peterson took his team on his back and carried it to the playoffs.

Everyone knew what the Vikings were going to do game-in and game-out, yet Peterson nearly set a new standard for NFL runners. In a passing league, Peterson went where only six runners went before: past the 2,000-yard mark. Oh, and he did it on a surgically repaired knee.

Four quarterbacks threw for more yards than Manning. Two threw for more touchdowns, and one quarterback led his team to as many wins as the future Hall of Fame passer.

But no runner touched the ball more times for more yards — and only two had more touchdowns — than ADP.

Neither Manning or Peterson would be a bad choice, and if Brady snags the award again, who can argue? But for my money, no player meant as much to his team as Peterson did in 2012.

Jerry Clark is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-779-6979.

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