''My feeling, as always, is the Most Valuable Player award in a team sport, to me that doesn't make a lot of sense."
Well, Tom Brady might not agree with the award, but he has won it, again.
The Patriots' quarterback is the 2010 Pro Football Weekly/Pro Football Writers of America MVP and Offensive Player of the Year, his second time winning the award. The first came in his record-setting 2007 campaign.
In '07, Brady threw 50 touchdown passes and eight interceptions. He completed 68.9 percent of his passes and finished the year with a 117.2 passer rating. He also didn't lose a game until the Super Bowl.
His 2008 season was lost in the season opener when he tore his ACL, and in 2009 he started to regain his '07 form. Finally, in '10, he was clearly back.
"He is into a real nice rhythm and looks like his old self," former Patriots star and current broadcaster Gino Cappelletti said.
This season was not without adversity, yet he still put up phenomenal numbers, making 2010 arguably just as impressive, if not more so, as '07.
In the second half of the Week Two game vs. the Jets, we saw the beginning of the end of the Randy Moss era in Foxborough, and the transformation of the Patriots' offense. Brady relied on Moss too often, targeting him 10 times for just two receptions. The QB also tossed two picks in a 28-14 loss.
"We couldn't run it. We couldn't throw it. We just sucked," Brady said after the loss.
The ultracompetitive Brady doesn't take losses too well, and he responded by throwing just six incompletions and three scores the next week against Buffalo.
The next bit of adversity, or expected adversity, came following a 41-14 win over the Dolphins when the Patriots traded Moss, Brady's best and only deep threat, and replaced him with Brady's old mate, veteran Deion Branch.
It didn't take long to see how the Patriots' offense would work with Branch and without Moss. In his first game, Branch led the team with nine catches for 98 yards and a score in a 23-20 win over the Ravens.
Brady would suffer one more bit of adversity, and it came in Week Nine. The Pats lost to the Browns 34-14 as Brady completed just 52.8 percent of his passes.
They say the best way to judge a man is not by the adversity he faces, but how he responds to it. Here's how Brady responded to the loss to the Browns in the final eight games of the season: He dominated.
The Patriots finished the season on an eight-game winning streak, including a 45-3 whipping of the Jets on "Monday Night Football" and a 36-7 win over the Bears in a blizzard. In those eight games, Brady threw 22 TD passes and zero interceptions. He set an NFL record for most consecutive pass attempts without throwing an interception (339), brought the Patriots to the top seed in the AFC and clinched the league MVP award.
"I'd say the biggest thing for any quarterback is just to watch (Brady)," coach Bill Belichick said earlier this season. "He's relentless in his preparation, his quest for perfection. ... He does pretty much everything that you would want a quarterback to do."
When you look at his numbers this season (36 TDs, four INTs, 111.0 passer rating, 14-2 record), they are pretty gaudy but still fall short of the ridiculous numbers he put up in '07. But what made this season possibly more impressive was the cast with whom he had to work.
Brady threw to Branch and Wes Welker but also tossed 16 TD passes to a pair of rookie tight ends and turned the diminutive Danny Woodhead into a household name. Brady worked with a bunch of no-names in 2010, after having thrown to Moss, Welker and Donté Stallworth in '07.
"He knows the game more than anybody. He has already made me into a 100-times-better player than I was coming from college," said Hernandez. "Knowing I'm going to have him on my team for these upcoming years, I know it's going to make me the best player I can be."
And Brady is not afraid to share the spotlight, often feeling more comfortable talking about his teammates than himself. "A lot of guys really stepped in and made some big plays: Taylor Price and Brandon (Tate) and (Julian Edelman), with Wes (Welker) and Deion (Branch) not playing — Aaron Hernandez — all those other guys really stepped up, so it was great to see," he said after the season finale win over Miami.
In the undefeated season, the Pats had the league's fourth-best defense. This year, Brady had more pressure to score points, as the young Patriots defense finished 25th in the NFL.
Brady outperformed the rest of the league, despite playing with less, making this a remarkable MVP season.
"He is throwing the ball beautifully — throwing it away from defenders while at the same time allowing his receivers to complete the pass and hitting them in stride," Cappelletti said.
Brady made his comments about the MVP award in late December, adding, "You know, I guess it's something they have to do. The only award I ever cared about is a Super Bowl ring."
But Brady will have to wait another year to try for his fourth ring.
Pro Football Weekly's annual awards issue (dated Jan. 23) is on sale now, featuring All-NFL, All-Conference and All-Rookie teams, MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Executive of the Year and Assistant Coach of the Year — all selected by PFW editors and contributors along with members of the Professional Football Writers of America — as well as a Golden Toe Award selected by PFW editors only. The print edition also contains a preview of the draft outlook for the first four teams to make selections in April, as well as previews of the two conference championship games. The print edition is available at retail outlets around the country and also online at PFWstore.com, where you can purchase a print copy or an electronic (PDF) version.