10 Players Who Should Have Been Named Super Bowl MVP
The Super Bowl MVP has traditionally been selected by a small group of media members covering the NFL title game.
Very often, the voters get it right and pick the player who had the biggest impact on the game. But sometimes, the selection is controversial or even downright wrong.
Here is a look at 10 players who should have been named the most valuable player of a particular Super Bowl, but were passed over for a less worthy (though often more popular) candidate.
Feel free to comment on any of the players on this list or nominate another player you feel was deserving of the Super Bowl MVP but was denied the honor. As always, indicate why your candidate should have won the MVP award.
Max McGee: Super Bowl I
Max McGee wasn't expecting to play much in Super Bowl I. The veteran wide receiver caught only four passes for the Green Bay Packers in 1966 as a backup to Boyd Dowler. He was so sure he wouldn't play that he was out until nearly dawn the night before the game entertaining some stewardesses.
Fate intervened when Dowler was injured on the first series of the game, and McGee was pressed into service. He had a heck of a game.
McGee grabbed seven passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns. He also scored the very first points in Super Bowl history. McGee used his experience to shred the secondary of the Kansas City Chiefs and was a huge reason why the Packers won the game.
Bart Starr was named the MVP of the game after completing 16-of-23 passes for 250 yards. Both of his touchdown passes went to McGee. Starr also threw one interception in the game.
While Starr's game was good, it was McGee who put up spectacular numbers and should have been named the game's MVP.
Matt Snell: Super Bowl III
Joe Namath was the biggest story of Super Bowl III. His brash personality and famous guarantee made him the center of attention. But while the media voted Namath the game's MVP, it was running back Matt Snell who deserved the honor.
Snell carried the ball 30 times for 121 yards and scored the only touchdown of the game for the New York Jets. Most of his success came running to the left side behind the blocks of tackle Winston Hill. The Baltimore Colts couldn't stop Snell. His running allowed the AFL champions to control the clock and control the game.
Namath's statistics for the game were rather pedestrian. He completed 17-of-28 passes for 206 yards. He did not throw a touchdown pass and was not picked off.
In Super Bowl III, Namath was the story, but Snell should have been the most valuable player.
Manny Fernandez: Super Bowl VII
The 1972 Miami Dolphins completed their perfect 17-0 season with a 14-7 win over the Washington Redskins in Super Bowl VII. The game was dominated by the Dolphins defense. The only points Miami allowed in the game came on kicker Garo Yepremian's attempted pass that was ruled a fumble and returned for a touchdown by Washington's Mike Bass.
In a game dominated by defense, the voters selected a defensive player as MVP in Miami safety Jake Scott. Scott intercepted two passes, including one in the fourth quarter that helped keep Billy Kilmer and the Redskins offense from scoring.
But while Scott had a good game, it was Miami nose tackle Manny Fernandez who deserved the MVP award. Fernandez didn't just play well, but he also had one of the most dominant games a defensive tackle ever played in NFL history.
Fernandez was credited with 17 tackles and one sack in the game. His quickness was too much to handle for Washington center Len Hauss, and Fernandez made play after play to stymie the Redskins' attack.
Nick Buoniconti, the middle linebacker of the Dolphins' "No Name Defense", also thought Fernandez deserved at least a share of the MVP award. He was quoted in "The Ultimate Super Bowl Book: A Complete Reference to the Stats, Stars and Stories Behind Football’s Biggest Game" by Bob McGinn. Buoniconti said, "They were intent on blocking me with two men [assuming] they could handle Manny one-on-one. Manny was very quick and he’d get into their backfield before they could react and tackle Brown. He beat Hauss like a drum."
Clarence Davis: Super Bowl XI
The Oakland Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14 in Super Bowl XI, and the game probably wasn't even that close. The Raiders were finally world champions after coming so close throughout the 1970s.
The MVP of the game was wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff. It was quite an interesting choice when you look at Biletnikoff's statistics for the game: four catches for 79 yards and no touchdowns. Granted, three of his catches did set up scores, but Biletnikoff is the only pass catcher to be named Super Bowl MVP who did not exceed 100 yards in the game and did reach the end zone.
The dominant player in this game was running back Clarence Davis. The Oakland halfback gained 137 yards on only 16 carries, an average of 8.5 yards-per-rush. He had rushes of 16, 20 and 35 yards during the game.
Davis mostly ran to the left side of the Raiders offensive line behind Art Shell and Gene Upshaw. The Vikings right defensive end, Jim Marshall, didn't even make a single tackle during the game.
The Raiders gained 429 yards in the game, including 288 in the first half. Davis was the catalyst that made the Oakland offense tick, and he deserved to be the MVP of Super Bowl XI.
Rod Martin: Super Bowl XV
Jim Plunkett was the center of attention entering Super Bowl XV, so it was hardly a surprise that the former Stanford star was selected as the MVP of the game after the Oakland Raiders defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10. But the player who deserved the MVP was linebacker Rod Martin.
Plunkett's final numbers were good. He completed 13-of-21 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. But Martin set a Super Bowl record with three interceptions, and those picks were a huge reason the Raiders won the football game. He returned them for a total of 44 yards.
Martin's initial pick came on Ron Jaworski's first pass of the game. Martin returned it to the Philadelphia 30 and set up Oakland's first touchdown of the game.
His second interception came in the third quarter and ended a Philadelphia drive that had reached the Oakland 34.
Martin's third pick came late in the game and snuffed out any chance the Eagles had of getting back into the game.
Plunkett played a good game, but Martin's performance was record-setting. He deserved to be named the MVP of Super Bowl XV for his efforts.
Timmy Smith: Super Bowl XXII
Quarterbacks are usually the center of attention in the NFL, and in Super Bowl XXII, Doug Williams was certainly the player the media focused on before the game. That was understandable considering he was the first African-American quarterback to start in the Super Bowl.
Williams didn't disappoint. He had a great game, throwing for 340 yards (then a Super Bowl record) and four touchdowns. The Washington Redskins overcame an early 10-0 deficit and crushed John Elway and the Denver Broncos 42-10.
But another player was breaking Super Bowl records and certainly deserved consideration for the MVP award: Washington running back Timmy Smith.
Smith was a little-known backup who started Super Bowl XXII due to injury. He ended up rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns. One of his scores was a 58-yard dash, and he averaged 9.3 yards each time he carried the ball.
Smith was an unknown before the Super Bowl and returned to obscurity after it. He had problems with illegal drugs and quickly found himself out of Washington and out of the NFL and later served time in prison.
He may have only been dominant for one game, but Smith's performance in Super Bowl XXII should have earned him serious consideration for MVP.
Thurman Thomas: Super Bowl XXV
In the history of the Super Bowl, a player from the losing team has only been named MVP of the game once (Chuck Howley of the Cowboys in Super Bowl V). It should have happened again in Super Bowl XXV when Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas was the most dominant player on the field, despite the fact that Buffalo lost 20-19 to the New York Giants.
The MVP award was given to Giants running back Ottis Anderson who ran for 102 yards on 21 attempts and scored one touchdown. He also caught one pass for seven yards.
Thomas' numbers were much better than Anderson's. The Bills' star ran for 135 yards and a touchdown while catching five passes for an additional 55 yards.
It is widely believed that Thomas would have won the MVP had Scott Norwood's 47-yard field goal on the game's final play split the uprights. Based on his outstanding performance in the game, Thomas should have won it anyway.
James Washington, Super Bowl XXVIII
Running back Emmitt Smith was named the MVP of Super Bowl XXVIII and had a good game, but it was safety James Washington who deserved to be selected as the most valuable player.
Smith ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns, mostly in the second half. He also caught four passes for another 26 yards.
In the opening minute of the third quarter, Thurman Thomas fumbled, and Washington recovered the loose ball before running it back 46 yards for a touchdown. The game was tied 13-13. The Cowboys never looked back and won the game 30-13.
In addition to his 11 tackles and the fumble recovery for a touchdown, Washington forced a fumble that was recovered by Leon Lett and intercepted a Jim Kelly pass.
Smith was a star and had a good game, but it was Washington who made the biggest difference in Super Bowl XXVIII.
Reggie White, Super Bowl XXXI
The MVP of the game was return specialist Desmond Howard who scored a touchdown that put the game out of reach. Howard totaled 244 return yards for the game and did help set up the Green Bay offense.
But defensive end Reggie White had a record-setting performance as well, recording three sacks in the game. All three of the sacks came in the second half and prevented Drew Bledsoe from getting the Patriots back into the game.
Two of the sacks came on back-to-back plays, including one play in which he nearly threw New England OT Max Lane aside before crushing the quarterback.
Dwight Smith: Super Bowl XXXVII
Dwight Smith is the player who should have won the MVP. Like Jackson, he picked off two passes in the big game. But unlike Jackson, Smith returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns. Smith became the first player in Super Bowl history to have two interception returns for a touchdown.
Jackson returned his two picks for 34 yards. Smith's two interceptions were returned for 94 yards and two scores.