In the first tie for NFL most valuable player since 1960, Brett Favre earned an unprecedented third straight award, sharing the honor with 2,000-yard rusher Barry Sanders on Saturday.
In balloting conducted by The Associated Press, the Green Bay quarterback and the Detroit running back each collected 18 votes from a nationwide panel of 48 sports writers and broadcasters.
Favre, who easily won the award the past two years, led the league in touchdown passes (35) and was second in yards passing with 3,867. He is the unquestioned leader of the defending Super Bowl champions, a strong consideration among voters.
Sanders became the third player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season when he gained 2,053, second most in league history. Only one of the others, O.J. Simpson in 1973, earned MVP honors; Eric Dickerson, who holds the NFL record with 2,105 yards, was beaten out by Dan Marino in 1984.
“We can look back on this 40 years from now and say you know what, the initial hit is: ‘Man, I wish I would have won it outright,”’ Favre said. “But I won it. You can look back and say I shared it with a great player, a great person.”
Sanders had similar thoughts about being part of the second tie for MVP - Philadelphia quarterback Norm Van Brocklin and Detroit linebacker Joe Schmidt shared the award in 1960.
“He reminds me a lot of Michael Jordan. No matter how successful he’s been, he’s still always the most competitive person on the field. Outside of his incredible talent and everything, he’s always just really competitive,” said Sanders, who set a league record with 14 straight games of more than 100 yards rushing after gaining only 53 yards in the first two games.