NFL Raiders QB Gannon named MVP
Green Bay's Brett Favre finished four votes behind.
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) -- Rich Gannon insists his slow road to success really isn't that different from the journey taken by many of the NFL greats.
It's just the veteran Oakland Raiders quarterback has something most of those men don't: MVP status.
"I think if you look around the locker room and look around the league, there's a lot of players who have had to go through some difficult times in order to get where they are in this league," the 37-year-old Gannon said Wednesday after being selected the NFL Most Valuable Player in his 15th season.
"I never lost faith in myself or my abilities. But again, you need opportunities in this business and up until about 1999 I didn't feel like I had a whole lot of opportunities."
Gannon's stardom didn't come easily.
He was traded to Minnesota only two weeks after New England drafted him out of Delaware in the fourth round in 1987.
He played for the Vikings until 1992, spent '93 with Washington, sat out the 1994 season after shoulder surgery, then became an effective starter in Kansas City from 1995-98.
Gannon left the Chiefs as a free agent in 1999, and he's been a sensation in Oakland ever since.
Three in a row
With Gannon leading the league's top offense, the Raiders won their third straight AFC West title. Oakland locked up home-field advantage and a playoff bye, and even swept its nemesis, Denver.
"This is a guy that I'm extremely proud of," coach Bill Callahan said. "He's a high character person, and his work ethic is unmatched of any pro that I've ever been around. I'm proud of the fact that not only has he done all these things and helped the team win, but he's let an offense capture a crown that hasn't been around here in a while."
Gannon broke the NFL completions record with 418. He led the league with 4,689 yards passing, nearly becoming just the second quarterback to go over 5,000 yards in a season. Dan Marino threw for 5,084 yards in 1984.
Gannon completed 67.6 percent of his attempts, had 26 touchdowns passes and only 10 interceptions. His 97.3 rating was second in the NFL to the Jets' Chad Pennington.
He also threw for more than 300 yards in 10 games, another record.
"It's embarrassing, it's difficult to talk about," he said.
"I'm just not very comfortable talking about myself and about individual accomplishments when really the focus of any good football team is team goals. And that's our goal here is to be champs."
Gannon received 19 votes to edge Green Bay's Brett Favre. Favre, the only three-time winner of The Associated Press MVP award, got 15 votes from the nationwide panel of 48 sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league.
Gannon is the third Raiders player to win the award, after quarterback Ken Stabler in 1974, and running back Marcus Allen in 1985. St. Louis quarterback Kurt Warner won last year.