After the Seattle Seahawks trounced the Denver Broncos, 43-8, in the 2014 Super Bowl, linebacker Malcolm Smith was named MVP.
This interception return for a touchdown was a big reason why he won the award:
While Smith's performance was impressive and affected the outcome of the game in a significant way, the unofficial chances of Smith repeating as Super Bowl MVP are just a hair south of infinity to one.
Unofficial Chances of Smith Repeating as Super Bowl MVP: 0.5 Percent
It certainly was nearly impossible to predict Smith's win this year.
Not since 2003 had a defensive player won the award. Ray Lewis, in 2001, was the last linebacker to do so, and Lewis was just the second linebacker to ever win the award at the time.
This wasn't just about Smith's position, either. There is also this:
Malcolm Smith probably isn't even one of the 11 best defensive players on Seattle.— Chase Stuart (@fbgchase) February 3, 2014
Smith, the 24-year-old out of USC, was a seventh-round selection in the 2011 draft by the Seahawks, and now he is Super Bowl MVP in one of the most ferocious NFL defenses in recent memory.
Now, I don't say any of this to suggest Smith was undeserving of the award:
Malcolm Smith is the first player in Super Bowl history with an interception return TD and a fumble recovery in the same game.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 3, 2014
That's what you call making an impact. Smith also tied for the team lead with 10 total tackles and six solo tackles.
To be fair, Smith's win of this award was a product of the entire defense. For starters, the Seahawks held the team that just set the single-season record for points scored to just eight points.
Manning was pressured heavily and had his arm hit on Smith's interception. Obviously, Smith also couldn't have recovered a fumble had the rest of the defense not helped force that fumble.
There is an element of being in the right place at the right time for Smith, but this young man does everything he can to be in the right place at the right time:
Malcolm Smith isn't lucky by the way. He's proactive and focused. He gets in those positions by working to get in those positions.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) February 3, 2014
Smith taking this award is not just deserved, but it's also wonderful for the league, as defensive players are often overlooked for this kind of personal honor.
Also, we're talking about a seventh-round pick on a loaded roster proving that hard work can make up for talent differentials.
That's not all, either. The MVP of the Super Bowl receives a car along with the honor. Typically, this means a millionaire is getting a car he may never need. That isn't the case this year:
Malcolm Smith will actually appreciate getting that car too. He's not a millionaire.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) February 3, 2014
More than all of that, however, is this:
Malcolm Smith named MVP. His Uncle died a few days ago. He told me he wanted to win it for him.— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) February 3, 2014
In a sport where stars get so much credit while other pieces of the team often get overlooked, it was great to see a young man as unheralded as Smith pick up the award. Especially considering the emotional backdrop he experienced leading up to this game.
Even if he has next to no chance of ever winning this award again.
For starters, the Seahawks would have to make it back to the Super Bowl next season and in all likelihood win the big game. The Seahawks are young and talented, but it is a long season and a challenging road back to the next Super Bowl.
Of course, Smith could switch teams and that team could also then win the Super Bowl, but again, that team would also face the same journey.
If Smith does make it to the Super Bowl with Seattle, he then faces the long odds of being a linebacker. Sure, he won this year's MVP as a linebacker. But remember, he is now just the third linebacker in the history of the Super Bowl to win MVP honors.
No matter where Smith plays, he is almost sure to fall well below the quarterback, leading receivers and running back in terms of potential to make an impact in the big game. For Seattle, this means outplaying stars like Russell Wilson, Marshawn Lynch and Percy Harvin, not to mention other defensive stars like Richard Sherman.
In the end, this was all a once-in-a-lifetime setting for Smith. I hope he takes ample time to enjoy the moment. He isn't likely to find another on the sporting fields that is as special as this.