Cowboys MVP Odds? Slim As Always

IRVING - The odds of a Dallas Cowboys player willing NFL MVP? Historically, they are all-too slim. Great years or not, league MVP is not Cowboys territory. An examination:

Bovada recently released their MVP odds, and three Dallas Cowboys make the list of candidates: quarterback Tony Romo, wide receiver Dez Bryant, and running back DeMarco Murray. The online gambling group announced their MVP list with Romo having 50/1 odds, Bryant with 66/1 odds, and Murray with a 200/1 shot.

There are 13 other quarterbacks ahead of the 34-year-old signal caller from Eastern Illinois – familiar names like Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Tom Brady, and names that induce less assuredness, like Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles, and Matthew Stafford.

While there are a host of MVP’s given out by sundry associations, in the NFL, the Associated Press MVP is recognized as the premier player-of-the-year award league-wide. In the history of the Dallas Cowboys, the franchise has only produced one Associated Press MVP: Emmitt Smith in 1993.

Who could argue with the results? While Emmitt was waiting for a contract extension for the first two games in 1993, Dallas dropped two very winnable games. To help cease the contract dispute from Jerry Jones’ end, it took Charles Haley smashing a helmet into the locker room wall and declaring that the team couldn’t win without the two-time NFL rushing champion.

Once Smith returned, Dallas only lost two more games all season on the way to becoming only the fifth franchise to win back-to-back Super Bowls. Oh, yeah, and don’t forget Emmitt Smith’s season-finale heroics that featured him carrying the rock 32 times for 168 yards and catching 10 passes for an additional 61 yards and a touchdown. Smith’s valiant effort gave Dallas a 16-13 win at New York, the divisional title, and homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

As Emmitt Smith is the only MVP award winner in club history. less storied teams like the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and the Cincinnati Bengals have two MVP’s. Even the Washington Redskins have three MVP’s.

How is it that the Cowboys, a franchise with 11 Pro Football Hall-of=-Fame members as players, can only produce a solitary MVP award? The answer is twofold: either 1) a Cowboy having a career year was overlooked by football writers that year for whatever reason, or 2) they simply weren’t good enough.

For our first example of being overlooked by the media, let’s take Roger Staubach in 1971. Although he did win the Bert Bell Award (the same award that Emmitt would win in 1993 along with the Associated Press MVP) for leading the Cowboys into the playoffs with a seven-game winning streak and a franchise-record 104.9 passer rating, that year’s winner was Alan Page, defensive tackle for the Minnesota Vikings. Sacks weren’t official statistics until 1982, so the only data present for posterity is Page’s three fumble recoveries for eight total yards and his two safeties. His award was possibly a makeup for their 1970 selection, when Page recovered seven fumbles for 77 yards and a touchdown. There have been 17 other players who recorded two safeties in a single season, and none of them made MVP.
Meanwhile, Staubach’s 104.9 passer rating was the highest passer rating any quarterback could achieve until Dan Marino’s phenomenal 1984 season. His passer rating would even stand out in today’s pass-heavy game. Staubach’s 104.9 rating would have led the league from 2000-03 and 2005-06. It is also worth noting that once Cowboys coach Tom Landry finally appointed Staubach as the starter, those Cowboys never lost a game all the way through their 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI.

In 1995, it was a year Emmitt Smith could have won his second MVP. He set the single-season rushing touchdown record with 25. His 377 carries were the most in the NFL, as were his 1,773 rushing yards (Barry Sanders was second with 1,500) and his 110.8 rushing yards per game (Barry Sanders was again second with 93.8). Instead, the MVP went to Brett Favre, who only led in passing yards and passing touchdowns in 1995.

The Packers won the NFC Central. Dallas had homefield advantage throughout the playoffs for the second time in three years, riding Emmitt's greatness.

Sometimes, no Cowboys has been good enough. In 1977, third-year running back Walter Payton pushed the Bears into the playoffs with his 339 carries, 1,852 yards, and 14 touchdowns. There were only four games out of the 14-game season that year that Payton fell below 100 yards rushing. He even had two games with rushing yards over 200. Chicago was 8-2 when he gained 100 yards or more and 1-3 when he didn’t.

The Cowboys did go 12-2 that season with Staubach playing in every game. But that was Sweetness' year.

In 1992, Steve Young led the 49ers to a 14-2 record and had a TD-INT ratio of 25-7. He was having a great year, though one could make the argument for Smith winning the MVP as the Cowboys defeated the 49ers in the NFC Championship game en route to their first Super Bowl win in 15 years.
In 2007 we saw a great example of the competition for MVP. Do you remember the days when Romo was considered the third-best quarterback in the NFL behind Manning and Brady? Well, 2007 was that year. Romo was having a career year in only his first full season as a starter. He was breaking franchise records for attempts, passing yards, and passing touchdowns in a single season and leading Dallas to a 13-3 record, matching their best ever since the institution of the 16-game format in 1978.

However, Brady was breaking league single-season records for categories like touchdowns en route to leading New England to a 16-0 record, the first perfect regular-season since the ’72 Dolphins.

Cowboys fans looking some consolation here can bask in the the fact that while Dallas has only one regular-season MVP, the Cowboys lead the league in Super Bowl MVP’s with seven. When good enough, "America’s Team'' knows which MVP awards are worth winning.

CowboysHQ Top Stories