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Analysis justin jefferson Minnesota Vikings Minnesota Vikings Opinion mn News rookie of the year ROY Vikings

Justin Jefferson Can Still Win the REAL Rookie of the Year Award


Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson won the Sporting News 2020 NFL Rookie of the Year award. But nobody cares, evidently. 

On Thursday, Pepsi announced that Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks won their version of the award on offense, and thatled many to believe that the ROTY race was over.

It isn’t.

Foremost, the NFL has too many ROTY trophies to distribute. VikingsTerritory is all about giving men and women credit when it is deserved, but there are more ROTY accolades than major American political parties. That is odd. All of the prizes are accredited in their own respect, but there are simply too many. 

As it stands, there are four ROTY announcements. Pepsi, Sporting News, Pro Football Writers of America, and [the gold standard] the Associated Press. 

But wait – there’s more to it. Two of the entities – Pro Football Writers of America and Associated Press – distinguish between Offensive Rookie of the Year and Defensive Rookie of the Year. Therefore, when one plugs dates into a 2020 calendar, circle six spots to be notified for ROTY news. There are essentially six awards. 

Generally speaking, the Associated Press flavor is the one accredited in a historical retrospect. Who won ROTY that season? Normally, pundits will point to Associated Press.

That award will be announced on Saturday. And Justin Jefferson — the owner of the NFL all-time rookie receiving yards record – is still alive.

Pepsi Likes Herbert

Pepsi dropped the tweet that broadcast to the world Justin Herbert’s win of ROTY. For a casual reader of tweets, the takeaway is, “Oh, ok. Herbert won it after all. He held off Jefferson.”

This is true – if one believes Pepsi is the Holy Grail of football awards. The Pepsi OROY is largely determined by fan-voting. That is likely why social media users saw both Justins’ names traveling worldwide in search of “retweets” or “shares.” Sharing the candidacy with friends, family, and followers tabulated and signified a vote for a candidate. 

Herbert won the popularity contest – likely because he plays the quarterback position. In fairness, Herbert did break the rookie records for passing yards and passing touchdowns. But those record-breaking feats are caveated by recency. For example, the passing touchdown record that Herbert toppled is held by Baker Mayfield. Yes, the 25-year-old who set the record two years ago. 

These rookie quarterback records go like hotcakes. Not so much for rookie wide receiving records. Not by a longshot. 

Contextually, ex-Vikings quarterback won the Pepsi ROTY in 2014 over Odell Beckham. Do you recall Bridgewater as the memorable ROTY of that season? Probably not. And that’s likely because there are six damn ROTY awards.

Pro Football Writers, too

Pro Football Writers – a bit more reputable on spots mattersthan soda pop – also favored Herbert. That group does not quite have the NIT (college basketball) feel that Pepsi holds. 

Ergo, tip of the hat to Herbert for this recognition. There is no knock on Pro Football Writers of America because the bunch is typically capable of objective judgment. If this award is considered a precursor to the Associated Press eventuality, then Herbert is in the driver’s seat. 

The last time Pro Football Writers and the Associated Pressdisagreed on the Offensive ROTY was 2016. Pro Football Writers bestowed the honor on Ezekiel Elliott. Associated Presssaid “no thanks” and gifted the trophy to Elliott’s teammate, DakPrescott.

It can happen – the two organizations have precedent for divvying the recognition. 2020 seems like a topsy-turvy enough year to do it (the award is for 2020 accolades – it is announced in 2021).

Associated Press Verdict Upcoming 

On news events and credibility, Associated Press is the standard-bearer for almost everything. On elections nights, skeptics wait until Associated Press makes the call on a politician’s fate before exalting a winner.

So it goes for ROTY supremacy. While the winners of Pepsi and Pro Football Writers will assuredly tout the fact they won ROTY, most history-book followers refer to the Associated Press – especially because there is a copious amount of ROTY recognition.

Vikings enthusiasts will instantly morph into Sporting Newsaficionados if Jefferson is shut out the rest of the way. And that is merely playful prejudice.

Yet, Jefferson has a puncher’s chance at snagging the real ROTY award. The same Associated Press entrusted Jefferson with All-Pro recognition in 2020. Herbert received nothing of the sort.  


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