The NFL's MVP award isn't actually handed out by the NFL, it's voted on by the Associated Press and the AP has announced that it will be making some major changes to how the award is voted on starting with the 2022 season.
Under the old format, the AP's 50 voters were only allowed to name 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 that and the AP officially went through with it on Friday.
The AP's Global Sports Editor, Ricardo Zuniga, explained why the organization decided to make the change after more than 50 years of rolling with a one player per ballot system.
"The essence of the AP NFL Awards remains the same -- to recognize the top performers of the season," Zuniga said. "Our goal is to provide the voters with an accurate and fair voting system to reflect their preferences. These tweaks will help them in their selection process."
it's not clear how the votes will be tallied, but there will definitely be some sort of weighted system in place that gives a player more points for earning a first-place vote. For instance, in the NBA, a player gets 10 points for a first-place vote, seven points for a second-place vote, five for a third-place, three for a fourth-place vote and one point for a fifth-place vote. The AP could go that route or come up with a similar system.
The AP's new system will give voters more say, but it won't always add more drama to the MVP vote. In nine of the past 10 years, we've seen the MVP winner receive at least 30 of the 50 allotted votes, which means each player still likely would have won even with a weighted system in place.
The only MVP winner over the past 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.
That being said, if this system had been in place over the past 25 years, there are several seasons where we might have ended up with different winners. Over the past quarter-century, there have been four instances where a player won MVP despite not even getting 20 of 50 votes.
Here's a look at each situation, along with the next-closest 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 that those votes wouldn't have ended in a tie. The NBA has never had co-MVPs and over the past 25 years, the only time it came close to happening was during the 1996-97 season with Karl Malone (986 points) edging Michael Jordan (952 points).
The only downside of the AP's new system is that a player could garner the most first-place votes, but still not win MVP. The way to keep that from happening is to make sure proper weight is given to a first-place vote (The NBA could have given out eight points for a second-place vote, but it ended up only counting seven points for second place to prevent that situation from happening).
As for the other awards handed out 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 and Most Valuable Player -- each voter will be allowed to rank their top-three candidates in those categories.
The voting for each award is done before the playoffs start with the winners being announced the Thursday before the Super Bowl. For the 2022 season, the awards will be handed out at the NFL Honors show on Feb. 9 in Phoenix.