Current lifetime achievement award winners
As many people start making predictions for the upcoming NFL season, I can’t help but think that some players are above the awards. Some players won’t win the MVP or some coaches won’t win the Coach of the Year not because they don’t deserve it, on the contrary, they are so good that they are above the award. Think of these people as already winning the lifetime achievement award, where the voters won’t give them the award that they deserve despite knowing they deserve it (voter fatigue). There have been lifetime achievement players and coaches in the past that were snubbed of the awards but there are still plenty of current players and coaches that have reached this status. Let's go through awards from different leagues that have someone who gets the lifetime achievement award for that category.
Coach of the Year: Bill Belichick
Bill Belichick is the best head coach in the NFL and possibly the best coach of All-Time (in any sport), yet Belichick has only won three Coach of the Year awards and the last time he won was in 2010. It’s clear that voters have accepted that Belichick is the league's best coach and doesn’t want to vote for him. Belichick might be able to win the award this year if he has his best coaching year as Tom Brady left for Tampa Bay and almost half the defense has opted out for the upcoming season.
Defensive Player of the Year: Aaron Donald
Aaron Donald has reached the point where he can get the lifetime achievement award. JJ Watt was this defender for a few years but Aaron Donald has become the undisputed best defensive player in the NFL. As experts are making their award predictions, it comes as a slight surprise that few of them are picking Aaron Donald to win the Defensive Player of the Year award. It can be agreed that Aaron Donald is the best and most valuable defensive player in the NFL, thus the lifetime achievement award is his (Canton already likely made space for him).
MVP: Mike Trout
Mike Trout won the award after the 2019 season, so it might be hard to say that Trout has reached the point where voters are getting tired of voting him as the winner. That being said, there have been multiple years that Mike Trout could have won the MVP and had to settle for second place (some years it would be watching Miguel Cabrera in his triple-crown days, some years it would be Mookie Betts or Jose Altuve having a great year on a great team). Mike Trout is likely to have more seasons where he doesn’t win the award despite being the best player in the game, it’s interesting to see how the voter fatigue has yet to affect Trout.
MVP: LeBron James
It’s become clear that the voters are tired of LeBron James. Since LeBron has entered the league, he has been the best player in the game of basketball. LeBron might finally win the MVP this year after years of being snubbed but the award has become one that has a tainted feeling to it. In recent years, the award has been given to a different player every year and sometimes it feels like they give it to someone who should have won it the previous year but came in second (James Harden finishing in second for years and finally winning it seems to be a prime example of it). LeBron might not have as many MVP awards as some of the other greats, but he has reached a level that transcends the trophy.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr
There are plenty of great coaches in the NBA and some of them deserve the award for the great seasons they have coached. Coach Pop and Steve Kerr have both disappeared from the award discussion in recent years. It can be pointed to the decline in both rosters, but the underlying reason that neither has won the award recently has been voter fatigue. Both are the two best coaches in the NBA and have brought innovation that has forever changed the game. Coach Pop won the lifetime achievement award a while ago, Steve Kerr looks to the younger Gregg Popovich and will likely be coaching title contenders years after the Warriors core is disbanded.
Hart Trophy winner (MVP): Alexander Ovechkin, Connor McDavid
The NHL has a bunch of awards named after people that nobody knows what the award is (to be honest, the only name that the players care about is Lord Stanley). The Hart Trophy is intended to be given to the best player in the NHL and the voters have been true for the most part to giving the award to the best player. At the same time, Alexander Ovechkin and Connor McDavid are the two best players in the game and are likely to snub the award in the future. Alexander Ovechkin is at the end of his career and had years where he lost the award with voters being tired of listing him as the best. McDavid is at the beginning of his career and will likely not win the Hart trophy for two major reasons, voter fatigue, and being on a bad team. Connor McDavid can become the Mike Trout of the NHL, which would be disappointing but at least we know there is a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame ready for him.