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Value and Betting the NFL MVP

by Robert Ferringo of Doc's Sports Picks

A half-point or reduced juice? Strong liquor or heavy narcotics? A good lawyer or a good doctor? Blondes or brunettes?

How does one determine what is most valuable in today's society? In the Gambling World, "value" is a phrase often tossed around, but its true definition is as elusive as Dante Hall in the open field. The reason: one can never ignore the individual perspective and intrinsic characteristics that make a line, person, or thing "valuable" to someone.

While value is difficult to qualify, Bodog has made an attempt to accurately quantify the individual value of players in the National Football League. Bodog currently has odds on who the Associated Press will select as the 2006-2007 Most Valuable Player. Generally, the odds are listed at various times throughout the season, but now is the most lucrative - and risky - time to make a play.

The NFL has recognized its outstanding player since 1938, when the first Joe Carr Trophy was awarded. However, that accolade was halted in 1946 and replaced in 1957 by the Associated Press MVP award. In 1975 the Pro Football Writers of America added their own version.

There have been three times that co-MVP's have been recognized by the AP, meaning that there have been 52 recipients in the award's illustrious history. The most recent double-dip was in 2003 when Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Tennessee's Steve McNair shared the crown. It also occurred in 1997 and 1960.

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How do you define value on the football field? Every play is a series of coordinated violence and savagery. Each moment is carefully scripted and meticulously choreographed. So how, then, is someone to pick out which player is the "most" responsible for wins and losses?

The simple and unsophisticated answer is to say that the quarterback is the one most instrumental in the success or failure of his squad. Consequently, the NFL MVP might as well be named the NFL Outstanding Quarterback Award. In the 49 years of the AP MVP it has gone to a quarterback 30 times. That's a 62 percent clip and a dominating advantage over any other position.

In fact, a non-quarterback hasn't won the award in back-to-back years since Marcus Allen in 1985 and Lawrence Taylor in 1986.

Running back is the second most popular position to draw an MVP from, taking the title in 15 of 49 seasons. No other offensive position - not wide receiver, tight end or lineman - has been recognized as the league's top player.

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Of the 14 winners between 1994 and 2005, four have been running backs. That includes Seattle's Shaun Alexander, who won the award in 2005. Rushers haven't taken home the award in back-to-back seasons since pulling the rare three-peat in 1971-1973, meaning that it's highly unlikely another runner will follow in Alexander's footsteps in 2006.

Four defensive players have earned the prize. Taylor was the last to do so following his commanding performance in 1986. It's also a virtual certainty that he celebrated the feat with a four-day coke binge following the Giants' Super Bowl season.

Kicker Mark Moseley is the only special teams player to bag the booty. That's right, in 1982 a kicker was voted league MVP. That's a bit like Jenna Jameson winning an Oscar. Moseley went 20-for-21 on field goals for the Washington Redskins in that strike-shortened season.

With the exception of years constricted by labor dispute, the NFL MVP has come from a team with a double-digit win total every season since the 16-game schedule was introduced in 1978. Clearly this should factor into your decision when trying to locate a strong MVP candidate. It's not always the league's best or most skilled player that wins, but the strongest player on one of the league's elite teams that is acknowledged.

There have been seven players that have been named NFL MVP more than once. Brett Favre is the only player to have been honored three times. However, Peyton Manning already has two trophies and, at just 30 years old, is in an excellent position to match Favre's mark.

Questions or comments for Robert? E-mail him at robert@docsports.com.

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