LAS VEGAS — There are a few NFL MVPs through history who were certainly good players but also well short of being legends in the game. They were very good players who were great for one season.
There are no flukes on the list of players with at least two MVPs. Every one belongs on a list of greatest players in NFL history. Every one is either in the Pro Football Hall of Fame or on their way.
That's Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson's new standing in the history of the game at just age 27. At NFL Honors on Thursday night he won his second Associated Press NFL MVP award. He was a unanimous winner for the 2019 season. Jackson came close to winning unanimously again. He got 49 of 50 first-place votes. Aaron Schatz of FTN Fantasy voted Josh Allen first and Dak Prescott second according to AP's Rob Maaddi.
AP NFL MVP voting
Lamar Jackson 49-0-1-0-0 = 493
Dak Prescott 0-17-13-11-6 = 152
Christian McCaffrey 0-17-12-11-4 = 147
Brock Purdy 0-9-5-12-13 = 97
Josh Allen 1-5-11-3-6 = 80
Tyreek Hill 0-2-6-9-14 = 60
Patrick Mahomes 0-0-2-2-2 = 12
— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) February 9, 2024
"I want to thank my organization, the Baltimore Ravens, for finally getting a deal done," Jackson said in his acceptance speech, drawing laughs from the crowd at NFL Honors.
Here's the group of multiple NFL MVPs that Jackson joins: Tom Brady, Jim Brown, Brett Favre, Patrick Mahomes, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana, Aaron Rodgers, Johnny Unitas, Kurt Warner and Steve Young. Brady, Rodgers and Mahomes aren't eligible yet for the Hall of Fame but will almost certainly be first-ballot picks. The rest are already in the Hall of Fame.
Of course, every player in that group before Jackson joined had something else in common, and Jackson is still outside of that club.
Lamar Jackson still seeking a title
Every multiple NFL MVP winner before Jackson won an NFL championship. Brown played before the Super Bowl era but led the Cleveland Browns to an NFL championship in 1964.
Jackson hasn't gotten that championship. Often at NFL Honors, award winners from the Super Bowl teams will not be able to attend, and Jackson joked he'd rather "send in a video" upon winning the award.
"Just to get this award, to be here for the award is the honor. I’d rather play in the Super Bowl than accept the award," Jackson said with a laugh backstage after the show.
Jackson's story gets trickier when talking about his playoff résumé. This season was a summation of Jackson's career to date. He was great in the regular season. The Ravens moved to a more pass-heavy offense with new coordinator Todd Monken and Jackson thrived. He had a career-best 3,678 passing yards and 24 touchdowns while still being an electric runner with 821 rushing yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He led the Ravens to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. A late-season blowout win over the San Francisco 49ers, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, practically sealed Jackson's second MVP.
Lamar went from +1600 (opening odds) to -10,000 (closing odds) to win MVP 🤯
The full MVP odds tracker from this season 🔽 pic.twitter.com/TylyQqjOjv
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) February 2, 2024
Then came the playoffs. The Ravens defeated the Houston Texans in the divisional round, just the second Ravens playoff win with Jackson at quarterback. But in the AFC championship game against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Ravens played poorly and Jackson led the offense to just one touchdown in a 17-10 loss. Jackson has been a great player over six regular seasons but hasn't replicated that yet in the playoffs.
Other great quarterbacks took a while to win their first Super Bowl. Jackson should still have plenty of time as an elite player. But until he does win that Super Bowl, his legacy in the game will be more complicated than the 10 other multiple MVP winners.
Jackson is one of a kind
Jackson is a unique talent who has helped transform the quarterback position. Among the other quarterbacks with multiple MVP awards, Young was an excellent runner and Rodgers, Mahomes and Montana added value with their legs, but none of them are close to Jackson as a runner.
Jackson is the fastest quarterback to ever reach 5,000 rushing yards. Mike Vick has the record for most rushing yards by a quarterback at 6,109, and Jackson should break that either late next season or early in the 2025 season as long as he stays healthy. Jackson has 5,258 career rushing yards.
He has also excelled as a passer, and that part of his game evolved under Monken. If Jackson didn't have the MVP locked up after the win over the 49ers, he clinched it with a perfect 158.3 passer rating in a win over the Miami Dolphins in Week 17.
He signed a five-year, $260 million deal with the Ravens after some nervous moments on the non-exclusive franchise tag, was asked to adapt to a new offense and had an MVP season. He told the team's website he feels he's a better player than he was for his first MVP season.
"[I'm more] experienced, I would say, and just knowing more just from seeing so much," Jackson said. "In my six years, I've just seen a lot. I'd say that's where I've grown the most.
"I believe everything plays its part — maturity, footwork, studying — everything. I'm just trying to be a better player and just trying to be a great player at this high-level game we're playing. I'm just trying to get better at everything, so I believe that's what's helping me out with the accuracy."
Jackson continues to add to a resume that, given his inclusion in the multiple-MVP circle, should land him in the Hall of Fame someday. A championship would eliminate any doubt.