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McNair, Manningco-MVPs

Wire services
Published January 3, 2004

It seems fitting Peyton Manning and Steve McNair shared the Associated Press NFL Most Valuable Player Award Friday. After all, their teams finished with the same record and tied atop the AFC South.

In the third tie since the award began in 1957, the premier passers each received 16 votes Friday from a nationwide panel of 50 sports writers and broadcasters who cover the NFL.

Manning and McNair led their teams to 12-4 records, with Manning's Colts edging McNair's Titans for the AFC South crown by winning both games against the Titans.

But they deadlocked for MVP.

"It is great," McNair said. "My words can't express how I feel being co-MVP with another great quarterback like Peyton. It's very emotional right now for me that people look at me as being one of the top quarterbacks of the NFL, one of the top players, and a co-MVP."

Manning felt the same way.

"This is such a tremendous honor," Manning said. "Obviously you look at all the former winners, it really is an honor to be on that same list, and to have such great teammates and a coaching staff that allowed me to go out and make plays.

"And to be sharing it with Steve, a player I have the most respect for and who has had a tremendous year, and to be ahead of guys like Tom Brady, who's a friend of mine, and Jamal Lewis, a former teammate of mine at Tennessee who easily could have been there, as well, it's tremendous."

New England quarterback Brady finished third with eight votes, followed by Baltimore running back Lewis, the AP offensive player of the year, with five. Kansas City running back Priest Holmes got three votes, and Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, the AP defensive player of the year, received two.

McNair led the league with a 100.4 passer rating. Manning had 99.0.

Manning led the league with 4,267 yards passing, topping the AFC with 29 TD passes. He has thrown 25 or more touchdowns in each of the past six seasons - the only player to accomplish the feat.

Manning and McNair make it three straight years a quarterback has been selected most valuable player. Oakland's Rich Gannon won last season and Kurt Warner was the 2001 MVP.

The other ties came in 1997 (Brett Favre and Barry Sanders) and in 1960 (Norm Van Brocklin and Joe Schmidt).

Comeback award to Kitna

CINCINNATI - With a Heisman Trophy winner waiting to take his job, quarterback Jon Kitna kept Cincinnati in contention until the final game.

He was honored as NFL comeback player of the year.

"My whole life, I never had anything handed to me," Kitna said. "I was always a pretty good athlete, but I was never one that people clamored about."

Kitna received eight votes to seven for Dallas quarterback Quincy Carter and six for Baltimore tackle Orlando Brown.

No. 1 pick Carson Palmer was waiting to take the job. But Kitna was the only quarterback to take every snap.

DOLPHINS: Former New Orleans GM Randy Mueller will interview Monday for the GM job. Miami also is trying to arrange an interview with Buffalo assistant GM Tom Modrak. Bucs interim GM Tim Ruskell interviewed Friday. A hire could be named within a week, president Eddie Jones said.

REDSKINS: Three interviews with former Giants coach Jim Fassel are done, with Dennis Green on deck in Washington's coaching search. Fassel and owner Dan Snyder concluded more than 12 hours of talks over two days in San Francisco. Snyder also plans to talk with Ray Rhodes, and Fassel will interview with Arizona, Chicago and Buffalo.

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