MINNEAPOLIS — The real hardware is on the line Sunday, but Patriots quarterback Tom Brady won a significant honor Saturday when he was named the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the 2017 season.
Brady, who won the award at the NFL Honors show, threw for a league-leading 4,577 yards in the regular season. He threw 32 touchdowns to 8 interceptions and his 66.3 completion percentage was the third-best of his 18-year career.
He won easily, getting 40 of a possible 50 votes. Los Angeles Rams running back Todd Gurley received 8 and injured Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz received 2.
Busy preparing for the Super Bowl, Brady wasn’t on hand to accept the award, which was presented by comedian Kevin Hart. Instead, Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who is on injured reserve, accepted it on Brady’s behalf, paraphrasing a text message he said Brady had sent.
“Tom said he wanted to say he’s very honored and humbled that he gets this award for MVP. Also, he wanted to thank his teammates, his friends, his family and the Patriots organization for going out and doing what they do,” Edelman said.
“And he said one thing for me to say, he said ‘LFG.’ I don’t know what it means,” Edelman said coyly, “But he said ‘LFG.’ So, I hope you guys all have a good night, and he says thanks, guys.”
LFG stands for “Let’s [expletive] go,” which Brady is often heard screaming to teammates on game days.
For Brady, the MVP award, voted on by the Associated Press, is his third. He also won in 2007 and 2010. Brady also counts four Super Bowl MVP trophies and five Super Bowl rings among the treasures in his trophy case.
Brady guided his team through a rocky first month of the season, keeping the Patriots afloat at 2-2 while the defense was allowing more than 30 points per game. He played all 16 games, and the Patriots finished 13-3.
Brady adapted after losing trusted receivers Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell for the season, developing a strong downfield connection with Brandin Cooks. He averaged 7.9 yards per pass attempt, remaining accurate while still throwing farther downfield than he has in all but four other seasons.
In his 18th season, his knowledge of defenses is encyclopedic, and Brady connected with seven teammates for more than 200 receiving yards.
Brady is the first quarterback to throw 32 touchdown passes and win 13 games at the age of 40, and the oldest player to receive the NFL’s MVP award. In the four major sports, Barry Bonds is the only other athlete to win a regular-season MVP award at age 40.
Had Wentz not torn his ACL with three games remaining in the regular season, Brady might have lost out to his Super Bowl opponent. But Nick Foles is suiting up Sunday for Philadelphia, and it was hard to see Wentz — the prolific second-year player who threw for 33 touchdowns and 3,296 yards while leading the league in touchdown percentage — surpassing Brady with an incomplete season.
Gurley, named the AP’s Offensive Player of the Year, also was considered a candidate after he led the NFL with 2,093 scrimmage yards and 19 touchdowns, but a quarterback has won the MVP award in nine of the past 10 seasons.
That meant when Hart took the stage in Minneapolis Saturday night, there wasn’t much suspense in the room.
Not all the questions have been answered, however. There’s another outcome to be decided Sunday and another MVP trophy to be awarded in the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady’s numbers from his MVP seasons
This is Brady’s third time being named NFL MVP by the Associated Press. A look at his numbers from those seasons: