Super Bowl MVP Spotlight

There’s a saying that “Big time players make big time plays in big time games.” That is surely an accurate way to look at the majority of the past Super Bowl MVPs. There are a few trends that emerge when examining the list of Super Bowl MVPs. Some of the players saved their best performances for the Super Bowl. For others, it was just business as usual. The amount of quarterbacks that have been named as the MVP far outnumbers any other position. Here is a breakdown of the past Super Bowl MVPs by position:


Quarterback: 26

Running Backs: 7

Wide Receivers: 6

Linebackers: 3

Defensive Ends: 2

Safety: 2

Cornerback: 1

Defensive Tackle: 1

Kick/Punt Returner: 1

As you can see, the quarterback position has been named Super Bowl MVP almost four times as many as any other position. It is the only in which there are any players that have been named the MVP more than once. Bart Starr (1967, 1968), Terry Bradshaw (1979, 1980) Joe Montana (1982, 1985, 1990) Tom Brady (2002, 2004) and Eli Manning (2008, 2012) are the only players to win the award more than once. Montana is a three time winner which is an NFL record. Bart Starr and Terry Bradshaw are the only players to win the award in back to back years.

The only cornerback to ever win the MVP award was Larry Brown with the Dallas Cowboys in 1996. Desmond Howard was the only return man to be named MVP. He won the award in 1997 with the Green Bay Packers. The only defensive tackle to be named the MVP was Randy White. He was also a co-MVP, sharing the award with defensive end Harvey Martin in 1978. White and Martin were a part of the Dallas Cowboys record setting seven Super Bowl MVPs. Here is a breakdown of the Super Bowl MVPs by team:

Dallas Cowboys: 7

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6

San Francisco 49ers: 5

Green Bay Packers, New York Giants: 4

New England Patriots, Oakland/LA Raiders, Washington Redskins: 3

Baltimore Ravens, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins: 2

The Chicago Bears, Indianapolis Colts, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, New York Jets, Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams and Tampa Bay Buccaneers all have one Super Bowl MVP. The Cowboys list does include White and Martin as two separate winners despite them being co-MVPs in 1978.


The Super Bowl is a game where relatively unknown players have the game of their career. Sometimes, the big games bring out the baller in lesser known players. There are all kinds of circumstances that lead to a player getting to shine in the Super Bowl spotlight. In some cases, such as Larry Brown and Dexter Jackson, it was matter of being in the right place at the right time. Both of these players were able to intercept errant throws by the opposing quarterback. Last year’s MVP, Malcolm Smith was a reserve linebacker that was able to get an interception off of a tipped pass. He returned it for a touchdown. Deion Branch is a player that just caught fire in a game and was able to exploit match ups. He tied a Super Bowl record with 11 receptions en route to being named Super Bowl MVP of 2005. Branch coincidentally played for both of the teams that are in this year’s Super Bowl. He signed a big free agent contract with the Seahawks after his Super Bowl MVP game.

Obviously, the player that is named the Super Bowl MVP usually comes from the winning team. There has only been one member of the losing Super Bowl team that won the MVP award. Chuck Howley was a linebacker for the Cowboys and won the award after his team lost to the Baltimore Colts. Howley had two interceptions and recovered a fumble in that game. He was the first defensive player to be named MVP.

There are a total of eight Super Bowl MVPs that are still active. They include: Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Santonio Holmes, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Joe Flacco and Malcolm Smith. There is a chance that that number expands this year unless Brady has a big game in this year’s Super Bowl.

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