NFL news of December 13, 2002

Closer than the race for the Heisman Trophy, tougher to call than a presidential election, is the challenge to find the NFL’s next most valuable player. Like Denver’s next mayoral contest, there is no shortage of candidates. Near the top of the list is Kansas City’s Priest Holmes, the running back the Denver Broncos will try to contain during Sunday’s playoff-like matchup at Invesco Field at Mile High.

Running even, if not ahead of him, is Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon, whom the Broncos will try to shut down the following Sunday in Oakland. At least three other bona fide candidates – Miami running back Ricky Williams and quarterbacks Brett Favre of Green Bay and Michael Vick of Atlanta – will get serious consideration.

The Broncos will not have a vote on the MVP award, something that is left to 48 NFL writers across the country. But with games against Holmes on Sunday and Gannon the next Sunday, the Broncos will have a say in who wins it.

…Holmes is on pace to step all over the opposition and the Chiefs’ record book. At this rate, Holmes will rush for 1,790 yards – 235 more than he rushed for last season, when he set the team’s single-season record. He’s on pace to score 30 touchdowns – four more than the NFL single-season record St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk set in 2000. He also leads the Chiefs in receptions with 68, for 650 yards.

— Adam Schefter, Denver Post “Crowded race for MVP K.C.’s Holmes can strengthen bid vs. Broncos.”

Holmes rushed 18 for 161 times against the Broncos but also suffered a hip injury that caused him to miss the rest of the 2002 season. Gannon eventually walked away the MVP trophy. Holmes broke Marshall Faulk’s NFL record in the 2003 season with 27 touchdowns.

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