Whether Aaron Rodgers’ 2014 season will be better remembered for his “R-E-L-A-X” comment or his triumphant return from a calf injury might make for a fun debate.
There’s no debate, however, that he’s the NFL’s Most Valuable Player for the second time in his career.
Rodgers was awarded the league’s MVP on Saturday night in Arizona, site of Super Bowl XLIX, at the annual NFL Honors show, winning the Associated Press vote of 50 pro football writers.
"It’s special. The award is about consistency and I feel confident in the way the preparation played out. The guys count on me to bring it every week,” Rodgers told packers.com minutes after receiving the award.
Rodgers’ perspective on the season?
"It’s disappointing, ultimately,” he said. “We were so close. When we look back on it, we’re going to take a lot of pride, but when you’re in Phoenix, there’s a game going on you’d rather not think about."
Rodgers’ statistics in 2014 didn’t set the records his 2011 ones did, when he won his first MVP, but they were nonetheless impressive.
In the regular season, he completed 341 of 520 passes (65.6 percent) for 4,381 yards and 38 touchdowns with just five interceptions. That produced a passer rating of 112.2, second in the league.
He ranked third in the league in TD passes and threw the fewest interceptions of any full-season starter.
In winning his second league MVP, Rodgers joins two other Packers who have won the award multiple times – Don Hutson (1941-42) and Brett Favre (1995-97).
In Hutson’s time, the selection was made by the NFL. Since the Associated Press began voting on the award in 1957, eight quarterbacks have now won it multiple times – Rodgers, Favre, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Kurt Warner, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
As in 2011, Rodgers previously had been voted MVP by the Pro Football Writers of America for 2014.
For much of the season, Rodgers’ year was defined by the comments he made on his weekly radio show following Green Bay’s Sept. 21 defeat at Detroit that dropped the Packers to 1-2.
He told the team’s passionate fan base to “R-E-L-A-X” and that everything would be fine. He was right, as he proceeded to lead the Packers to nine wins in their next 10 games, posting passer ratings of 120 or better six times in that span.
The run of excellence included a last-second TD pass to beat Miami in Week 6 and an NFL-record six TD passes in the first half of a Week 10 blowout of Chicago.
The end of the season became all about his calf, of course. Rodgers injured it initially during a Week 16 victory at Tampa Bay. He then hurt it more severely in the second quarter of the Week 17 NFC North showdown against the Lions while throwing a TD pass to Randall Cobb.
Rodgers left the game to get treatment on his leg, missing Green Bay’s final offensive series of the first half and the opening drive of the second half. When he walked back out of the tunnel to the sideline during the third quarter, he was greeted to chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P!” from the Lambeau Field faithful.
As he warmed up to get ready to re-enter the game, Rodgers told backup QB Matt Flynn, “I got it,” and then proceeded to drive the Packers 60 yards for the go-ahead score, throwing a 13-yard TD pass to Cobb. He added another TD on a surprise QB sneak for a 30-20 victory that gave the Packers their fourth straight division title and a first-round playoff bye.
Rodgers then played both of the Packers’ postseason games with the calf injury, posting a 125.4 passer rating in leading a second-half comeback against Dallas in the divisional round and then, in the NFC title game in Seattle, getting the Packers within four minutes of advancing to the Super Bowl.
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