I don't know why I thought it would be different, but when Steelers all-everything wide-receiver Antonio Brown was being serenaded with chants of "MVP!" by the home crowd as he was helped to the sidelines with what turned out to be a regular season-ending calf injury in the first half of the now infamous 27-24 loss to the Patriots on December 17, I thought it was possible.
What did I think was possible? That those MVP chants were more than just wishful thinking by the folks at Heinz Field.
Of course, with the competition being what it was--namely a field of quarterbacks headed by Tom Brady—and with history being what it was—that no receiver had ever won MVP—I wasn't about to hold my breath.
I certainly didn't hold it Saturday, right before voting for the 2017 winner was about to be announced.
Perhaps, not surprisingly, Brady won the award, giving him three for a career that has already been described as the greatest for the position he plays.
What did surprise me a little was the lack of love Brown received from voters.
I realize no receiver had ever won the award, but how could what Brown did in 2017—including lead the league in receiving yards despite missing the final 10 quarters with that aforementioned calf injury—not count for a respectable showing in the polls?
Oh well, at the end of the day, I'm less concerned about Brown winning the NFL MVP, and more concerned with him continuing to win games for the Steelers in subsequent years.
And, make no mistake, Brown has won many games for the Steelers over the years.
We know the kinds of numbers Brown has accumulated since 2013, but I think in a weird way they overshadow the countless clutch moments he's had since, really, that helmet catch in the divisional playoff game back in January of 2011 that put him on the map.
That catch came at the tail-end of Brown's rookie season, when he was still a young pup competing for one bone under head coach Mike Tomlin's watch.
It's not often we think of receivers as clutch players, but Brown just has a remarkable knack for coming up with big plays in the final moments, plays that either put a game out of reach; or clinch a division title, by fighting for the goal line, when it is heavily guarded by three Ravens defenders and seems out of reach.
Maybe that's why his teammates voted Brown the team MVP for a record fourth time in 2017, which has to make one wonder where the decorated receiver's place in team history will ultimately settle when the dust clears, and his career is over.
Nobody should feel sorry for Brown for getting overlooked in the voting, considering he really is one of the faces of the NFL, but it does call into question the legitimacy of the annual NFL MVP award.
Don't get me wrong, Brady is just the latest in a long succession of absolute legends who have won MVP. However, I find it hard to believe that, with two exceptions (defensive tackle Alan Page in 1971, and linebacker Lawrence Taylor in 1986), the best player in football every year has either been a quarterback or running back, since the award began in 1957.
The good news is, if Antonio Brown, still shy of his 30th birthday, continues to chase the elusive NFL MVP award, it will likely mean his career will end in both Steelers—and NFL—immortality.