The voting format for the NFL MVP award will be fundamentally changed beginning with the 2022 season

The NFL’s MVP award isn’t actually presented by the NFL, but the Associated Press and AP have announced that beginning with the 2022 season, it will be making some significant changes to how the award is voted on.

Under the old format, the AP’s 50 voters were only allowed to nominate one player on their MVP ballot, but starting this year, each voter will be allowed to rank their top five picks for MVP. CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones reported in September This change would likely take place and the AP officially pulled it through on Friday.

AP’s Global Sports Editor Ricardo Zuniga explained why the organization decided to make the change after more than 50 years with a one-player-per-choice system.

“The essence of the AP NFL Awards remains the same — recognizing the season’s top performers,” said Zuniga. “Our goal is to provide voters with an accurate and fair voting system that reflects their preferences. These tweaks will help them in their selection process.”

It’s not clear how the votes will be counted, but there will definitely be some sort of weighted system that will give a player more points if they get a first place vote. For example, in the NBA, a player receives 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for a second-place vote, five for a third-place vote, three for a fourth-place vote, and one point for a fifth-place vote . The AP could go this route or develop a similar system.

The AP’s new system will give voters more say, but it won’t always add drama to the MVP vote. In nine of the last ten years, we’ve seen the MVP winner receive at least 30 of the 50 votes allotted, meaning that any player would likely have won even with a weighted system.

The only MVP winner of the last decade who didn’t get at least 30 votes was Matt Ryan, but he still won comfortably in 2016 with 25 votes, beating out Tom Brady, Derek Carr and Ezekiel Elliott, who all got six votes.

If that system had existed for the past 25 years, there would have been multiple seasons where we might have had different winners. In the last quarter century, there have been four instances where a player has won MVP despite not even receiving 20 out of 50 votes.

Here’s a look at each situation, along with the next finisher:

1997: Brett Favre (18 votes), Barry Sanders (18)
2002: Rich Gannon (19 votes), Brett Favre (15), Steve McNair (11)
2003: Peyton Manning (16 votes), Steve McNair (16), Tom Brady (Eight)
2005: Shaun Alexander (19 votes), Peyton Manning (13), Tom Brady (10)

In 1997 and 2003, the NFL ended each season with co-MVPs. If voters had been allowed to rank their top five players in each of those seasons, it’s almost certain those polls wouldn’t have ended in a tie. The NBA has never had co-MVPs, and in the last 25 years the only time that happened was in the 1996-97 season when Karl Malone (986 points) defeated Michael Jordan (952 points).

The only downside to AP’s new system is that a player can collect the most first place votes but still not win an MVP. To prevent this, you need to ensure that the right weight is given to a first place vote (the NBA could have awarded eight points for a second place vote, but in the end they only counted seven points for second place, to prevent this situation from occurring).

As for the other awards presented by the AP — Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year, Offensive Rookie of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Assistant Coach of the Year, Coach of the Year of the Year, and Most Valuable Player — each voter gets to choose their top three Classify candidates into these categories.

Voting for each award occurs prior to the start of the playoffs, with winners announced the Thursday before the Super Bowl. For the 2022 season, awards will be presented at the NFL Honors Show on February 9 in Phoenix.


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