J.J. Watt Wins NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Places Second In MVP Race

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If you needed any further confirmation that J.J. Watt is on the figurative NFL Mount Rushmore in 2015, and likely the next in line to take over as THE face of the league once Peyton Manning and Tom Brady decide to retire, you got what you were looking for on Saturday night during the NFL Honors ceremony, the league's made-for-TV, Academy Awards-style event that dishes out hardware to all of the league's big achievers for the past season.

On the field, few achieved more than the Texans' defensive end, and off the field, that's translated into unprecedented Tv and Hollywood buzz for a Houston athlete, maybe ever. Jimmy Kimmel Live, South Park, ESPN shoots with Katy Perry.

J.J. Watt is big box office now. When the league needed a comedic "enforcer" alongside show host Seth Meyers to open the show, Watt was the easy choice. It was a good night for Watt, even if he didn't pull off the one upset most Houstonians were rooting for -- the 2014 Most Valuable Player Award.

That went to Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, in a vote that went like this:

Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay ... 31 J.J. Watt, Houston ... 13 Tony Romo, Dallas ... 2 DeMarco Murray, Dallas ... 2 Tom Brady, New England ... 1 Bobby Wagner, Seattle ... 1

Yes, I know what you're saying -- "Holy shit, Bobby Wagner?!? What?!? How did THAT happen?!?" Honestly, most average football fans probably aren't entirely sure who he is, and that's ok. I'll get to that vote in a moment.

On Saturday night, Rodgers became the ninth player in league history to win multiple MVP awards, easily outdistancing Watt, who had the best showing of any defensive player since the panel was reduced to 50 voters in 1999. The panel of voters is comprised of media members who cover the league on a regular basis.

Rodgers, 31, led the NFL in touchdown-to-interception ratio (38 TDs, 5 INTs) during the regular season, finished second in passer rating (112.2) and yards per attempt (8.43), and third in touchdown passes.

Rodgers was the only quarterback to finish in the top three in all four of those categories. "I feel so fortunate to live out my dreams, year after year," Rodgers said in accepting the award.

Rodgers won his first MVP award following the 2011 season, and joins former teammate Brett Favre as the second Packers quarterback to win multiple league MVP awards, with Favre garnering the honor three times over his career.

Meanwhile, while J.J. Watt was unable to bring home the MVP Award, he did make history in becoming the first player to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year award unanimously, with all 50 of the same voters who vote for the MVP selecting him as the best defensive player in the game (which yes, means there's one person who voted Watt as the best defensive player and Wagner as the MVP of the NFL).

It was so obvious that Watt would be winning the award that they didn't even bother showing highlights of "finalists" before presenting it, just a handful of Watt highlights and a few soundbites of him mic'd up, before crowning him king of all defensive football players on the planet.

In the end it had no bearing on the final outcome of the MVP vote, but clearly the most bizarre selection by any of the 50 media members was the vote for Seahawks linebacker Wagner for MVP, which was cast by none other than former Bucs and Seahawks head coach Tony Dungy.

So how does one reconcile voting for Watt as the best defensive player in the league and also voting for Wagner, who missed five games, as his MVP. Wagner might not even be the MVP of his own defense. Well, in the face of a Twitter mob looking for an explanation (and, for many, the expulsion of Dungy from the process in the future), Dungy explained...

I responded to him, in kind....

And to his credit, Dungy actually replied back....

My counterargument is here....

And that was pretty much it.

With the caveat that each voter has his own right to interpret the words "Most Valuable Player" as he sees fit, there are a couple major flaws in Dungy's line of thinking (or "overthinking," as it were):

1. Dungy's clinging to everyone else dealing in hypotheticals and his only dealing in "facts" that New England and Seattle were better with Gronkowski and Wagner than they were without them essentially penalizes any player who stays healthy for 16 games. By Dungy's line of thinking, if Watt had missed month of the season but came back and the Texans were substantially better on defense with him, he'd have a better chance at getting his vote than if he did what he's done every year -- answer the bell every single Sunday.

Did Dungy vote for Aaron Rodgers in 2013? The Packers were 2-5-1 without Rodgers that season, and 6-2 in games he started and finished. Hell, why not vote for Peyton Manning in 2011? He missed the whole damn season and the Colts went 2-14.

2. At least when the argument came down to the "value" of Rodgers as a quarterback versus the sheer productivity of J.J. Watt from a position not known for gaudy stats, you could argue that the Texans would likely trade Watt for Rodgers if given the chance. If the Texans traded Watt for Wagner, they'd have the whole front office committed to a mental institution and arrested for franchise malpractice.

Sadly, it seems like the only thing J.J. Watt can do to actually win the MVP is find 52 teammates who can help him win 12 or 13 games.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.

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