NFL wide receivers that should have been league MVP: 17. Terrell Owens, 2001
Honestly, it’s surprising how little Terrell Owens would qualify for this award. He had that great season in Philadelphia, but he broke his leg and it knocked him out of the running to make that kind of push for an MVP award. He was a five-time All-Pro receiver, showing he was always one of the top receivers in the game. He did this with three different franchises. However, there was no season quite like the 2001 season.
The narrative is a big part of the voting for MVP. For the first time in a long time, Jerry Rice was not the top guy in San Francisco. It was now Terrell Owens who was the top pass catcher in the Bay Area. Yes, even with Rice joining Tim Brown in Oakland, Owens was the man in the Bay Area.
Owens’ stats were arguably better on a per-game basis in 2000, but his ability to carry the 49ers into the next era is what deserves the MVP honors. He led a proud franchise that had missed the playoffs in two straight seasons back to the promised land. Jeff Garcia was now the leader under center. The stars weren’t there anymore. It was Owens trying to carry this team to new heights with young stars.
Owens was a scoring machine. He had a league-leading 16 touchdowns that season. He scored in every way possible. He had some touchdowns where he evaded the defense for a long score. Others came with catches in the end zone. He had one game where he caught two balls all game, but they totals 116 yards and two touchdowns. Owens was not only the best player in the league in 2001, but he was the most important player in the league. He was the MVP.