GREEN BAY –Aaron Rodgers is in really exclusive company now.
On Saturday night, the Packers quarterback became just the sixth player to be named the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player three times since the award's inception in 1957.
With MVPs in 2011, '14 and '20, Rodgers joins a short list of three-time winners that features Jim Brown, Johnny Unitas, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and his own former Green Bay teammate, Brett Favre.
"The guys on that list are guys I grew up watching, idolizing," Rodgers said in comments distributed to the media. "To join that list of guys who've won it more than twice is pretty special."
Favre remains the only player to win three consecutive MVPs (1995-97), a feat Rodgers feels "probably will never be done again." Manning tops the group with five total MVPs.
Rodgers received 44 of the 50 votes from the AP panel. With six years having passed between his second and third honors, Rodgers nearly matched the record seven-year gap between awards owned by both Brady (2007, '10, '17) and Brown ('57, '58, '65).
Rodgers won his first MVP the year after his Super Bowl XLV triumph, setting an NFL single-season record with a 122.5 passer rating. This year's honor, highlighted by a passer rating falling just short of that record mark (121.5), came in his second season under Head Coach Matt LaFleur, who brought a new offensive system to Green Bay in 2019.
"To have won it in my fourth year as a starter was very special, and now to win it in my 13th year as a starter, in a new offense, is pretty amazing and something I'm really proud of," Rodgers said. "To have sustained success and to be playing your best football at 37, in my 16th season, is something I take a lot of pride in."
In 2020, Rodgers set personal bests as well as franchise records with 48 touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 70.7. He threw just five interceptions, tied for the fewest of his MVP years (also 2014), and posted his ninth career 4,000-yard passing season with 4,299 yards.
He became the first QB to lead the league in the categories of TD passes, completion percentage, passer rating and interception percentage (1.0) in the same season since 1992, when Steve Young won the first of his two MVPs.
He was also named the FedEx Air Player of the Year for 2020 as well.
This past year, Rodgers posted his third straight season with at least 500 pass attempts and fewer than five interceptions. There are only seven such seasons in NFL history, according to Elias Sports Bureau, and Rodgers has now accounted for four of them ('14, '18-20). Sam Bradford, Alex Smith and Russell Wilson have done it once each.
For the second straight year under LaFleur, Rodgers led the Packers to a 13-3 regular season and home playoff win before falling in the NFC title game.
Rodgers was one of four first-team All-Pro selections in 2020 for Green Bay, which also had two second-team choices and a total of seven Pro Bowlers.
All season long and again upon learning of the award, Rodgers relished the team the Packers had and the role he played in its success during a year unlike any other due to a global pandemic.
"I'm really thankful for my teammates, the way that they played this year," he said. "It's so much fun being called upon to be a leader of this football team. I'm thankful for the opportunity to still be here, to still be the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
"The success we had this year made the season a lot of fun at a time when there was a lot of turmoil and protocols around coronavirus. So I'm thankful for all my guys, all the support from them, having my back, listening to me, questioning me, having great conversations, growing together on the field, and then going out and putting up big-time performances."
The selection of Rodgers this year means a quarterback has won 14 of the last 15 MVPs and 17 of the last 20. Running backs Adrian Peterson (2012), LaDainian Tomlinson (2006) and Shaun Alexander (2005) are the only non-QBs to win the award since 2001.
Rodgers' three MVPs now give the Packers a total of nine in the history of the award. Paul Hornung ('61), Jim Taylor ('62) and Bart Starr ('66) each won one during the Lombardi era before Favre won his three in the mid-1990s.
Those nine nearly double the total of five accumulated by Green Bay's current NFC North rivals, with Minnesota winning three (Alan Page in '71, Fran Tarkenton '75, Peterson), while Chicago (Walter Payton '77) and Detroit (Barry Sanders '97, shared with Favre) have one apiece.
That wasn't the only league honor Rodgers took home Sunday evening. He also was named the FedEx Air Player of the Year. Packers Head Coach Matt LaFleur was among the finalists for NFL Coach of the Year.
Three-time MVP winners
|Peyton Manning||5||’03, ’04, ’08, ’09, ’13|
|Aaron Rodgers||3||’11, ’14, ’20|
|Tom Brady||3||’07, ’10, ’17|
|Brett Favre||3||’95, ’96, ’97|
|Johnny Unitas||3||’59, ’64, ’67|
|Jim Brown||3||’57, ’58, ’65|