Russell Wilson is NFL's real MVP


The response was memorable and unique.

During the 2012 NFL scouting combine, then- Philadelphia Eagles director of pro personnel Louis Riddick was engaged in an interview with offensive lineman Kevin Zeitler. During the meeting, Riddick asked Zeitler what he thought of Russell Wilson, with whom Zeitler played at Wisconsin the previous season.

Zeitler told Riddick he thought Wilson could be president of the United States one day, if that's what Wilson wanted to do. Wilson engendered those kinds of feelings, that kind of loyalty from the people around him.

"I've never heard anybody say that about a player," Riddick said.

That is one of the many reasons, in just his second season in Seattle, Wilson has emerged as a legitimate candidate to become the youngest player since Dan Marino to win the league's most valuable player award. Marino was 23 when he won it in 1984. Wilson just turned 25.

Peyton Manning will likely win for the fifth time. Manning is on pace to break Drew Brees' record for passing yards in a season. He has thrown 41 touchdown passes against just nine interceptions, completed 68.1 percent of his passes, averages 8.6 yards per attempt and has a 115.3 passer rating -- the best in the NFL. And, the 10-2 Denver Broncos don't have a team with a winning record remaining on the schedule.

Manning certainly would be a worthy recipient, but the case could be made that Wilson would be better.

Wilson has the entire package. He has "it." It doesn't matter that he is only 5-foot-11. He has proven to be transcendent, to be so much more than his size. He is a tireless worker. He is an ardent student of film. And his teammates love him.

Led by Wilson, Seattle has the best record in the league and just slammed the New Orleans Saints on Monday night as if the Saints were winless instead of the second-best team in the NFC.

Wilson doesn't have the statistics that Manning has because the Seahawks' offense isn't built like Denver's. They have a potent running game with Marshawn Lynch and Wilson, who ranks third among quarterbacks with 456 rushing yards. Whereas Manning averages 40 pass attempts per game, Wilson averages 25.4. Even so, Wilson averages 8.8 yards per attempt, has completed 64.9 percent of his passes and has 22 touchdowns against six interceptions.

Voters love statistics. I should know. I am one. But there must be context, too.

Wilson is in just his second season. He has never lost a game at home. His 22 career wins are tied with Ben Roethlisberger for the most through a quarterback's first two seasons (for QBs whose careers began since the merger), and there are still four more games to go this season. Wilson is one of only four quarterbacks ever to throw 20 touchdown passes in each of his first two seasons, joining Marino, Manning and Andy Dalton. And Wilson has the third-best passer rating over the past two seasons, behind Manning and Tom Brady.

Wilson walked into a perfect situation in Seattle as a rookie last season, much like Roethlisberger did when the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted him 11th overall in 2004.

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