The Associated Press is mulling changes to the way its 50 voters ultimately chose the NFL's Most Valuable Player, sources tell CBS Sports.
For years, voters have submitted one name and one name only for the league's top on-field award. Now, the AP is considering ranked-choice voting for MVP, a system where voters rank multiple candidates by preference. Sources say several voters have pushed for this system for years.
The AP's award has long been considered the true NFL MVP, even though other outlets have also issued MVPs over the years. Last year, Aaron Rodgers won his second consecutive NFL MVP title and fourth overall when he got 39 votes to Tom Brady's 10. Cooper Kupp got the other vote.
There hasn't been any genuine intrigue around who would win the award in at least a decade, since Adrian Peterson got 30 1/2 votes to Peyton Manning's 19 1/2 in 2012. By the time the regular season ends -- and usually even a week or two before the finale -- a regular NFL observer can determine who will be named that season's MVP by the time it's awarded at NFL Honors during Super Bowl week.
Ranked-choice would give voters more flexibility and a greater voice in the results, though it's unclear if their ballots would finally be made public. It would also get more players involved in the MVP voting. There's no doubt Russell Wilson would have gotten an MVP vote of some sort over the past decade if ranked-choice voting had been the system.
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For more than 40 years, the NBA has done ranked-choice voting with media members. Voters rank MVP candidates one through five, with 10 points going to first-place, seven points to second, five to third, three to fourth and one point to fifth.
An inherent danger in all ranked-choice voting is that someone may have fewer first-place votes than a competitor but far more second-place votes that ultimately win them the award. How the Associated Press decides to weigh these votes will need to ensure that isn't a possibility. At this point it's unclear how many candidates voters would be able to rank, and it's also not known how many points would be assigned to those rankings.
The closest vote in recent history was 2003 when Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the award. Each player got 16 votes, with four other players splitting the remaining 18 votes. It's possible, though unlikely, that Manning and McNair still would have shared the award had there been rank-choice voting.
Voters felt good enough to give their votes to Tom Brady, Jamal Lewis, Priest Holmes and Ray Lewis that year. They would have been split on ranking McNair over Manning or Manning over McNair (or maybe not giving a top-three vote to either of them.)
The MVP voting panel is comprised of 50 sportswriters and broadcasters from across the country who cover the NFL on a daily, national basis. The MVP is a regular-season award, and voters must submit their ballots before the start of the postseason.