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Delaware's Rich Gannon is selected NFL's MVP

12:15 p.m., Jan. 2, 2003--Rich Gannon, a star quarterback for the University of Delaware football team from 1984-86, has been named the National Football League’s Most Valuable Player by the Associated Press.

Gannon, 37, led the Oakland Raiders to its third straight American Football Conference Western Division title with a record of 11-5.

In the MVP balloting, Gannon received 19 votes from the nationwide panel of sports writers and broadcasters to edge out Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre, who received 15 votes. Steve McNair, quarterback of the Tennessee Titans, finished third in the balloting with 11 votes.

Gannon broke or threatened a host of NFL passing records this season as the Raiders put in place a high-octane offense. He ranked first in the NFL in passing (4,689 yards), pass attempts (618) and pass completions (418, an NFL record).

In addition to establishing a new NFL mark for completions, Gannon set NFL records for most 300-yard passing games in a single season (10), most consecutive 300-yard passing games (6) and consecutive completions in a single game (21 on Nov. 11 at Denver).

“I have never been a guy that has really focused on individual accomplishments,” Gannon said during a press conference Jan. 1. “I choose to look at it from a team standpoint. I think it’s a big reflection of the performance of our offensive line and perimeter people, our receivers, tight ends and running backs have all had this year.

“My focus has never been on individual awards but rather on team goals,” he added. “The good thing about this is that it comes at a point in time after the regular season where our focus is on the playoffs and I’m glad it won't be a distraction to the team. It’s a great award and a great honor. I think it’s something that the entire offense and especially the offensive line can enjoy and appreciate because they are a big part of it.”

“This validates him as one of the great players in the National Football League,” Raiders Head Coach Bill Callahan said in announcing the award.

Gannon said he thinks of his career “in terms of perseverance. I never lost faith in myself and my abilities.”

Gannon was drafted out of UD in 1987 by the New England Patriots, who took him in the fourth round with designs on changing him from a quarterback to a running back or defensive back.

He was traded to the Minnesota Vikings only two weeks after New England drafted him because he insisted on being a quarterback. He played for the Vikings until 1992, spent the 1993 season with the Washington Redskins, then sat out the 1994 season after shoulder surgery.

He played with Kansas City from 1995-98 but left the Chiefs as a free agent in 1999 to direct the Oakland offense.

To see a portion of the Jan. 1 press conference, log on to the team’s web site at [www.raiders.com].

Article by Neil Thomas