An affiliation of American Arena League sportswriters and bloggers has selected Atlanta Havoc wide receiver Ryan McDaniel as the league’s 2018 Most Valuable Player in voting that ended yesterday evening.
After winning back-to-back Arena Bowls with the Philadelphia Soul in 2016 and 2017, McDaniel signed with Atlanta last December and started all 13 games in a season that culminated with his third consecutive championship. He was the go-to option for three different quarterbacks over the spring, leading the Havoc in touchdown receptions as they rolled to a 9-0 regular season start, eventually capturing the inaugural AAL championship with playoff wins at Cape Fear and Richmond.
McDaniel collected 46 of a possible 72 points, including three first-place votes, the most of any player. He was also the only player to appear on each voter’s top-five ballot. Georgia Doom quarterback Luke Collis finished second in voting with 31 points, followed by Havoc quarterback Lee Chapple with 21 points.
The voting affiliation, which was not formally sanctioned by the AAL’s front office or owners, organized after the league’s July 2 announcement of all-stars and assorted best-ofs that left some fans and players confused and dissatisfied with the selection process. In that announcement, the league awarded its offensive MVP to McDaniel’s teammate, receiver Thyron Lewis, and split a defensive MVP between two linemen, Atlanta’s Larry Ford and Richmond’s Keonte Hollis.
The lack of transparency with voting and an apparent log-jam of MVP winners has remained a lingering controversy. With no resolution in sight, five of the AAL’s six primary media websites – daily posters Inside The Arena and LockedIn Magazine, along with intermittent posters Arena Football Insider, Arena Football News, and Fifty Yarder, this year’s host site – joined forces to introduce a voting system run by sportswriters similar to those used in major professional sports. The AAL’s own website was invited to participate but did not respond.
Under the sportswriters’ system, voters completed a ballot ranking their top five MVP nominees. Each first-place vote received 12 points, with successively lower places receiving 7, 4, 2, and 1 point, respectively.
In addition to adding visibility into the process, voting by the sportswriters who cover all teams removes the appearance of ownership bias toward their own players. And with the AAL’s lack of available statistics, writers are better able to sidestep the temptation of selecting the most outstanding rather than the most valuable player.
Complete voting results for the AAL’s 2018 Most Valuable Player is presented below. The five digits appearing after each player’s name, position, and team represent the number of votes for first through fifth place, respectively, followed by total points.
1 Ryan McDaniel WR, Atlanta 3-0-2-1-0 46
2 Luke Collis QB, Georgia 1-1-3-0-0 31
3 Lee Chapple QB, Atlanta 1-1-0-0-2 21
4 Keonte Hollis DL, Richmond 0-2-1-1-0 20
5 Larry Ford DL, Atlanta 1-0-0-0-0 12
6T Greg Hardy DE, Richmond 0-1-0-0-0 7
6T Micheaux Robinson CB, Atlanta 0-1-0-0-0 7
8 David Washington QB, Carolina 0-0-0-2-1 5
9 Larry Beavers WR, Georgia 0-0-0-1-1 3
10 Josh Doster RB, Carolina 0-0-0-1-0 2
Others receiving votes: Stephen Panasuk, QB, Jersey; Daryl Clark, QB, Cape Fear; and Antwon Cutts, WR, Georgia.