As Harvin has placed the Vikings offense on his back and emerged from the shadow of Adrian Peterson, he is catching the eye of the entire NFL. He leads the NFL in all-purpose yards. He is on pace for 120 receptions. He is the most frightening kickoff return man in the league, getting teams to change the way they approach kickoffs – willing to squib kick the ball away from home and being willing to let the Vikings start drives from the 30- or 35-yard line simply to avoid the potential of Harvin taking a kick back the distance.
From the talking heads on ESPN to national radio talk show hosts to NFL beat writers, they all have a newfound appreciation for Harvin. No longer is he talked about in terms of being a dynamic gimmick playmaker. He is being spoken of in terms of the league's Most Valuable Player. In a story currently on the NFL's league website, Harvin has entered the weekly assessment of MVP candidates because he has become known for his ability to take over games – something typically reserved for quarterbacks and running backs.
Harvin, who admitted last week that his offseason unhappiness was due to a lack of definition of his role, is being touted for his unique skill set that makes him a game-changer that defines the role of MVP.
If Harvin is in the MVP discussion, it would be precedent-setting. The Associated Press has been handing out its MVP award since 1957 and a wide receiver has never won it. Not Randy Moss in 2007. Not Jerry Rice in 1987. It just doesn't happen. But, as more and more national media types start to realize that Harvin brings something to the table that is unique among wide receivers, he is starting to get mentions not only as the best wide receiver of 2012, but the best all-around talent as well.
What has been the big difference with Harvin? Nothing. Vikings fans have always known that Harvin is a field-tilting talent, but his role in the offense has changed because the team has decided to let him do what he did at Florida to become a first-round pick. The only drawback to Harvin coming out of college was that his skill set for the Gators didn't translate to a conventional offense. So what have the Vikings done? They have tailored their offense to accentuate Harvin's unique skills.
The rest of the NFL is starting to realize what Vikings players and coaches (and opposing defensive coordinators) have known for some time – Harvin is one of the most valuable players in the league. However, it's nice to see him getting the recognition he deserves and emerge from the shadow of being viewed as an undersized role player.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.