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To say Tyreek Hill is having a season for the ages would be an understatement. He’s on his way to having the best season a wide receiver has ever had in the NFL and, in the process, solidifying his place among the all-time greats in Canton.
I’ve always thought that Hill needed eight years at an elite level to make it in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. What’s always made me nervous about him is his size (he’s not very big), the potential punishment he exposes himself to, and his reliance on speed – which can fade rather quickly as a player ages.
Hill is in his eighth season and he’s proven remarkably durable. Maybe it’s his speed – which hasn’t diminished much, if at all – that keeps him from getting hit. Hill makes a lot of catches. He takes the hits. And he gets back up and makes another play.
Hill is 29 and he’s not slowing down — literally or figuratively. If anything, he’s getting better.
He’s sitting atop the leaderboard in receiving yards with 1,481 and 12 touchdowns. Sunday, he torched the hapless Washington Commanders for 157 yards and a pair of touchdowns, the shortest of which was 60 yards. In 2020 with Kansas City, Hill had a career-high 15 touchdowns, a mark he will almost certainly break this season unless something catastrophic happens.
His 1,481 yards over 12 games (the Dolphins are leading their division with a 9-3 mark) amount to 123 yards per game – 2,098 for a 17-game season – and the single-season receiving record. If Hill (and quarterback Tua Tagovailoa) stay healthy for the next five games, should he be the NFL’s MVP? That seems to be the question league insiders are asking.
At the outset, you might say, “Absolutely!” The answer, however, is much more complicated. The MVP award has become primarily an award that goes to the best quarterback in the league. You’ve got to go back to 2012 when running back Adrian Peterson won the MVP to find a non-quarterback recipient. The intriguing part of this conversation, the point that keeps coming up time and again, is that there are no quarterbacks truly separating themselves from their peers. Yes, a few quarterbacks are having great years, Tagovailoa among them, but none are truly dominant. That should pave the way for a player who has having a once-in-a-lifetime season to step in and win the award.
But it’s not that simple.
Aside from the fact that it’s been 11 years since a non-quarterback won the MVP award it’s been even longer since a wide receiver won it.
In the history of the NFL, no wide receiver has ever won the MVP award. Sports are often beholden to tradition and it’s going to be difficult for voters to accept a receiver as the league’s best player no matter how compelling the evidence. But that’s not to say that it’s an impossibility.
Twelve games into the season, Tyreek Hill is certainly deserving of the MVP. It’s really not that close.
Hill has been an impact player from the first time he stepped on an NFL field. He’s played at an elite level for eight years, won a Super Bowl, and, if he claims the MVP, he will be the first wide receiver to be voted the NFL’s most valuable player.
And that, I believe, would open the doors to Canton.
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