Voting needs to be taken away from media

Voting needs to be taken away from media
January 12
14:34 2022

I was watching ESPN last week while cooking dinner and I just happened to hear a story about Aaron Rodgers and a particular reporter. Apparently, the reporter stated he would not vote for Rodgers as NFL MVP because he said Rodgers was a “jerk.” While that may or may not be true, what does that have to do with his play on the field? It’s getting to the point where media members need their role dramatically reduced or eliminated from voting for certain awards and honors like MVP and even the hall of fame for major sport leagues.

The “official” MVP award is voted on by 50 media members of the Associated Press. The reporter that made those comments about Rodgers was Hub Arkush, editor of Pro Football Weekly. In an interview with Chicago radio station WSCR-AM, Arkush said he won’t vote for Rodgers for MVP because of his off-field character.

“I don’t think you can be the biggest jerk in the league and punish your team, and your organization, and your fan base the way he did and be the Most Valuable Player,” Arkush said. “Has he been the most valuable on the field? Yeah, you could make that argument, but I don’t think he is clearly that much more valuable than Jonathan Taylor or Cooper Kupp or maybe even Tom Brady. So, from where I sit, the rest of it is why he’s not gonna be my choice.

“I just think that the way he’s carried himself is inappropriate. I think he’s a bad guy, and I don’t think a bad guy can be the most valuable guy at the same time.”

Arkush was referring to Rodgers requesting a trade during the offseason. He also received a lot of flack for not being vaccinated and having to miss a game in November and the fact that many believe that he was lying or not very forthright about his vaccination status earlier in the season.

I despise it when I hear things like that about a player. They can have all the stats that qualify them for an award or accolade, but because their attitude was not agreeable to the media, they are penalized for it.

The first thing that came to mind when I heard what Arkush had to say was Terrell Owens’ issues getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Owens last played in the NFL in 2010 and officially retired in 2013. As a rule, a player has to wait five years after retirement for consideration for the hall of fame.

Owens was a no-brainer hall of famer, but was not elected until 2018, which means he remained on the ballot for three years before he got in and that is ridiculous. The one and only reason that Owens was not elected in his first year was because of his tumultuous relationship with the media. 

Just look at some of his numbers. Owens finished his career eighth in receptions, second in yards, and third in touchdowns all time. Anyone that is top ten in those categories should be a first ballot hall of famer. In fact, anyone that saw him play and was commonly one of the best receivers in the league for a decade would say he deserves to be a first ballot guy as well.

After being elected in 2018, Owens appeared on Kevin Hart’s Cold as Balls series and spoke about why he didn’t get elected until his third year.

“That c-word … character, which a lot of the voters kinda added to the mix of the criteria of inducting guys,” Owens said. “It should be about your body of work and your accomplishments.”

As a snub to the hall of fame, Owens did not attend the ceremony, but instead he hosted his own induction ceremony at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

On the flipside, you have guys like Calvin Johnson, who was also an all-time great, inducted in his first year of eligibility. No shade to Johnson, but I think one of the reasons he was elected in his first year was because he was very nice to the media and was always looked upon as a “good guy.”

I feel the same way about baseball players like Pete Rose, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, or Alex Rodriguez. In Rose’s case, yes he did bet on baseball, but he is one of the best players to ever play the game. And let’s not ignore the fact that there are many players in the Baseball Hall of Fame that have done some questionable or downright horrible things.

And for those players who were under scrutiny for steroids or PEDs, I really don’t care. For most of those players, with or without PEDs, they would have been hall of famers. And Bonds, Clemens, and several others, they were hall of fame players before they ever touched the stuff.

I have read and heard stories about some of the things that players did before testing became part of the baseball landscape. Amphetamines, caffeine, and illegal drugs like cocaine were very prevalent in the league decades before steroids and PEDs showed up. So I say, if they fit the criteria, let them in. But of course, those gatekeepers of the hall of fame will never let that happen.

Those media members will never let those who have tested positive or are under scrutiny of taking PEDs into the hall of fame and that is a shame. They act like major league baseball is some pure thing that can’t have any sort of blemish. Come on now, this is a sport that didn’t allow minorities to play until 1947 and the league was created in the 1870s.

As long as the media has the keys to awards and accolades like the hall of fame, we will always run into this. I think some of these voters never experienced any level of success in sports, so they use their status as voters to live out their dreams. I think the athletes who don’t suck up to some of these voters are the real heroes.

I would love to see some sort of change to the power the media members have with voting. Maybe a player commission or former coaches and executives can fill those roles. I think people who have actually played the game at a high level or those who have been around those athletes and see the work they put in would have a better understanding of what it takes to become an MVP or hall of famer and not include character traits into it.

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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