Aaron Rodgers’ MVP case: Will off-field COVID vaccination saga impact voting?

Whether it was opposing defenses, COVID or a fractured pinky toe, virtually nothing has been able to stop Aaron Rodgers in 2021. 

That doesn’t mean he’s an automatic for his fourth MVP.

The Packers quarterback has ascended to the top of the MVP favorites list for 2021, leading a pretty thin field of hopefuls, as the Packers continue their dominating march to the NFL playoffs.

But some off-the-field stuff may sway the opinions of writers who vote for the highest individual award in the sport — or, at least, Rodgers may believe so. 

Aaron Rodgers’ MVP case

Rodgers’ case to win his fourth MVP is pretty simple. Entering Week 17, the passer for the 12-3, No. 1-seed hopeful Packers leads the league in the following categories:

He’s thrown for 3,689 yards in 14 games, 33 touchdowns and four interceptions. Rodgers is 10th in the league in passing yards, fourth in touchdown passes, seven in completion rate (68.0 percent) and first in passer rating.

While there’s not another real slam-dunk MVP candidate at quarterback this year, Rodgers has the most well-rounded case to take the award from center. Other QBs, including Josh Allen and Tom Brady, could crash the party with strong performances over the remaining two weeks.

There’s always the case of what the word “valuable” is, as well: While oddsmakers have Rodgers pinned as the clubhouse leader, others could have a say in the way voting shakes out, namely Jonathan Taylor, Colts running back. Taylor has been Indy’s engine this season, rushing for 1,626 yards and 17 touchdowns on the year, and he enters Week 17 just 38 yards shy of 2,000 scrimmage yards on the season with 19 total touchdowns.

So, for now, there’s a pretty solid case for Rodgers to win his fourth.

Will the writers vote for Aaron Rodgers?

There may be a bigger, more ridiculous question surrounding Rodgers’ MVP candidacy: What the writers think about him.

As is custom for the NFL MVP award, all members of the Pro Football Writers Association have an opportunity to vote for the MVP award. While Rodgers’ case is pretty crystal clear on the field, some writers may have an axe to grind with what’s happened off of it earlier in the season.

Rodgers came under fire in November for his coronavirus and vaccination comments, as well as his “deception” surrounding his vaccination status stretching back to the 

Some — including Rodgers himself — believe that the media won’t vote for Rodgers as MVP due to the fallout from that situation.

On Nov. 9, Pat McAfee of “The Pat McAfee Show,” McAfee opened up the narrative with a (seeming) joke, which is pretty difficult to analyze whether or not Rodgers actually buys into. 

(Editor’s note: NSFW language.)

“Aaron ain’t never winning another MVP, no matter how he plays,” McAfee said, citing the PFWA’s potential hesitance to vote for Rodgers because of his comments on vaccination and 

“And do you know that you’re probably never going to win an MVP again?” McAfee added later during an interview with Rodgers. “That’s probably never going to happen, right?”

Rodgers replied, with a laugh: “I do think that’s a legitimate statement.”

While no writers have been outwardly opposed to Rodgers’ comments, it wouldn’t bother the quarterback had they been: Rodgers said that he doesn’t need the outside validation, saying he feels comfortable with who he is and that the outside opinions don’t mean much to him now. 

We’ll see if a fourth MVP changes that.

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