Taylor-Made Vote

The Jaguars can't sell out their stadium, but apparently they can get fans to stuff the ballot box. The NFL announced Wednesday that Fred Taylor, the ninth leading rusher in the NFL, won the FedEx Ground Player of the Year Award, beating out Adrian Peterson. But, seeing as Tom Brady didn't win the Air Award with 50 TD passes, you have to wonder who's counting the dangling chads in Florida?

It seems only fitting that a questionable vote should benefit someone from Florida.

As part of the Super Bowl festivities, the annual FedEx Air & Ground NFL Players of the Year were announced Wednesday and, to the shock of most, Fred Taylor of the Jaguars won the ground award honor.

According to the league statement, more than 1,000,000 votes were cast and somehow Taylor beat out Adrian Peterson and LaDainian Tomlinson, calling into question just what exactly the fans were voting on or whether the election was determined in advance.

While Taylor had a solid season (223 carries for 1,202 yards and five touchdowns), it would seem the Ground Player of the Year would need a little more oomph to take home the title. Peterson had just 15 more carries than Taylor in two fewer games, but had 139 more yards, seven more rushing touchdowns and a better per-carry average. While Tomlinson didn't have as good a rushing average as Taylor (4.7), he had 92 more carries, 272 more yards and 10 more rushing TDs.

In an equally questionable decision, Brett Favre beat out Tom Brady and Tony Romo for the Air Player of the Year. While there is no questioning that Favre had a renaissance season in 2007, Brady set the all-time record for touchdown passes and had his team on the first 16-0 regular season in the history of the league. What more could he have done?

While it's fun to have the fans involved in the naming of awards, even sponsor-generated awards, it seems that the point is lost if the least deserving candidate wins. In the rushing realm, L.T. and A.D. finished 1-2, while Taylor finished ninth. In the passing realm, Brady was first in yards, touchdowns, average gain and completion percentage, while Favre finished no higher than fourth in any statistical category.

While congratulations go out to both Taylor and Favre for good seasons, it calls into question who was the best at what they did. If it was a career achievement award, that would be fine. Give them the award. But if it was based on their 2007 performance, it looks as though the package got lost in transit.

* Peterson is on the cover of the limited edition Donruss trading card magazine. Limited to 2,000 copies, the magazine is being sold at the Super Bowl and includes a limited-edition card of Peterson with each magazine. He is also part of an award-winners card set that includes Tom Brady for his touchdown record, Randy Moss for his receiving record and Patrick Willis as Defensive Rookie of the Year. Peterson's awards card is for being Offensive Rookie of the Year.
* While a lot of players have been dropping out of the Pro Bowl due to various injuries, A.D. has been rehabbing his knee back in Texas since the end of the season and intends to play 100 percent at the Pro Bowl. With his history of playing hard at all times – practices, scrimmages, etc. – he could make the usually ho-hum Pro Bowl a lot more exciting.
* Peterson and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald took part in a game of financial football this week, designed to teach youngsters about money management using an NFL-themed game. The two played to a 7-7 tie.
* Jamal Lewis is using Peterson as a benchmark for what he hopes will be a long-term deal with the Browns. The team and Lewis' agent, Mitch Frankel, have discussed a new deal, but the Browns want a two-year deal. As part of their negotiating strategy, Frankel pointed out to the media that the only other players in the league with 1,300 yards rushing and nine or more TDs were Tomlinson and Peterson.
* Peterson is one of three NFL players that have signed on to promote Chili's restaurant's Smokehouse Bacon Burgers, joining QB Drew Brees and RB Brian Westbrook. The player with the best-selling burger over the 60-day promotional period will receive $10,000 from Chili's to donate to the charity of his choice. Fans can vote at the Chili's website to vote for Peterson's burger and can win prizes like autographed helmets or tickets to any 2008 regular-season NFL or college game of their choice.

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